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Brigham Young University
RARE BOOK COLLECTION
Vault 821.713 R524
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THE RIVER DUDDON:
A SERIES OF SONNETS:
VAUDRACOUR AND JULIA;
AND OTHER POEMS,
TO WHICH IS ANNEXED A TOPOGRAPHICAL DESCRIPTION
OF THE COUNTRY OF THE LAKES IN THE NORTH OF ENGLAND.
PRINTED FOR LONGMAN, HURST, REES, ORME, & BROWN,
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2011 with funding from
Brigham Young University
TO THE REV.
CHRISTOPHER WORDSWORTH, D. D.
CALLED FORTH BY ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL STREAMS
OF HIS NATIVE COUNTY,
ARE RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED,
HIS AFFECTIONATE BROTHER,
This Publication, together with " The Thanksgiving
Ode," Jan. 18. 1816, " The Tale of Peter Bell," and
** The Waggoner," completes the third and last volume
of the Author's Miscellaneous Poems.
The River Duddon, &c. - - - - - 1
Vaudracour and Julia - - - - - 71
On the Longest Day ------. 87
Lament of Mary Queen of Scots - - - 92
To on her First Ascent to the Summit of Helvellyn 96
To Lycoris - - -"---99
To the same -_-_-- - 102
The Brownie's Cell 104
Composed at Cora Lynn - - - - - 110
To the Rev. Dr. W. with Sonnets to the River
Duddon, &c. 113
Repentance - - - - ---118
Song for the Spinning-Wheel - - - - 121
Hint from the Mountains - - - - - 123
Dion " - - 125
-Vt Mf^-' ^ ' The Pilgrim's Dream - . - . . 133
£./'.^\ Artegal and Elidure - - - - - -138
vri.^^- A Fact and an Imagination, or Canute and Alfred - 154
\V^m4 To " Those silver clouds," &c. - - 157
4'«m4>4 Sonnets - - 159 to 163
^^^ Inscriptions, supposed to be found in and near a
*ju, Hermit's Cell ----- . 154
/ '^ \^ The Prioress's Tale (from Chaucer) - - ^ - 175
September, 1819, - 187
Upon the same Occasion - - - - - 189
Ode, composed upon an Evening of extraordinary
Splendor and Beauty - - - - 193
" A little onward," &c. - .^- - - - 198
Ode, The Pass of Kirkstone - - - - 201
Ode, 1817, - - - 208
Topographical Descriptiojj pf the Country of the
A SERIES OF
The River Duddon rises upon Wrynose Tell, on the
confines of Westmorland, Cumberland, and Lanca-
shire ; ayid, serm7ig as a boundary to the tnsoo latter
counties, for the space of about twenty-five miles,
enters the Irish sea, between the isle of Walney
and the lordship of Milium,
Not envying shades which haply yet may throw
A grateful coolness round that rocky spring,
Bandusia, once responsive to the string
Of the Horatian lyre with babbling flow ;
Careless of flowers that in perennial blow
Round the moist marge of Persian fountains cling ;
Heedless of Alpine torrents thundering
Through icy portals radiant as heaven's bow ;
I seek the birth-place of a native Stream. —
All hail ye mountains, hail thou morning light !
Better to breathe upon this aery height
Than pass in needless sleep from dream to dream ;
Pure flow the verse, pure, vigorous, free, and bright,
For Duddon, long lov'd Duddon, is my theme !
THE RIVER DUDDON.
Child of the clouds ! remote from every taint
Of sordid industry thy lot is cast ;
Thine are the honors of the lofty waste ;
Not seldom, when with heat the valleys faint,
Thy hand-maid Frost with spangled tissue quaint
Thy cradle decks ; — to chaunt thy birth, thou hast
' No meaner Poet than the whistling Blast,
And Desolation is thy Patron-saint !
She guards thee, ruthless Power ! who would not spare
Those mighty forests, once the bison's screen.
Where stalk'd the huge deer to his shaggy lair *
Through paths and alleys roofed with sombre green,
Thousand of years before the silent air
Was pierced by whizzing shaft of hunter keen I
* The deer alluded to is the Leigh, a gigantic species long since extinct.
THE RIVER DUDDON.
How shall I paint thee ? — Be this naked stone
My seat while I give way to such intent ;
Pleased could my verse, a speaking monument,
Make to the eyes of men thy features known.
But as of all those tripping lambs not one
Outruns his fellows, so hath nature lent
To thy beginning nought that doth present
Peculiar grounds for hope to build upon.
To dignify the spot that gives thee birth,
No sign of hoar Antiquity's esteem
Appears, and none of modern Fortune's care ;
Yet thou thyself hast round thee shed a gleam
Of brilliant moss, instinct with freshness rare ;
Prompt offering to thy Foster-mother, Earth !
THE RIVER DUDDON.
Take, cradled Nursling of the mountain, take
This parting glance, no negligent adieu !
A Protean change seems wrought while I pursue
The curves, a loosely-scattered chain doth make ;
Or rather thou appear'st a glistering snake,
Silent, and to the gazer's eye untrue,
Thridding with sinuous lapse the rushes, through
Dwarf willows gliding, and by ferny brake.
Starts from a dizzy steep the undaunted Rill
Rob'd instantly in garb of snow-white foam ;
And laughing dares the Adventurer, who hath clomb
So high, a rival purpose to fulfil ;
Else let the Dastard backward wend, and roam,
Seeking less bold achievement, where he will !
THE RIVER DUDDON,
Sole listener, Diiddon ! to the breeze that play'd
With thy clear voice, I caught the fitful sound
Wafted o'er sullen moss and craggy mound,
Unfruitful solitudes, that seem'd to upbraid
The sun in heaven ! — but now, to form a shade
For Thee, green alders have together wound
Their foliage ; ashes flung their arms around ;
And birch-trees risen in silver colonnade.
And thou hast also tempted here to rise,
'Mid sheltering pines, this Cottage rude and giey;
Whose ruddy children, by the mother's eyes
Carelessly watch'd, sport through the summer day,
Thy pleas'd associates : — light as endless May
On infant bosoms lonely Nature lies.
8 THE RIVER DUDDON.
Ere yet our course was graced with social trees
It lacked not old remains of hawthorn bowers.
Where small birds warbled to their paramours ;
And, earlier still, was heard the hum of bees;
I saw them ply their harmless robberies,
And caught the fragrance which the sundry flowers.
Fed by the stream with soft perpetual showers,
Plenteously yielded to the vagrant breeze.
There bloomed the strawberry of the wilderness ;
The trembling eye-bright showed her sapphire blue.
The thyme her purple like the blush of even ;
And, if the breath of some to no caress
Invited, forth they peeped so fair to view.
All kinds alike seemed favourites of Heaven.
^ THE RIVER DUDDON.
" Change me, some God, into that breathing rose !"
The love-sick Stripling fancifully sighs.
The envied flower beholding, as it lies
On Laura's breast, in exquisite repose ;
Or he would pass into her Bird, that throws
The darts of song from out its wiry cage ;
Enraptured, — could he for himself engage
The thousandth part of what the Nymph bestows,
And what the little careless Innocent
Ungraciously receives. Too daring choice I
There are whose calmer mind it would content
To be an uncuUed flow'ret of the glen.
Fearless of plough and scythe ; or darkling wren,
That tunes on Duddon's banks her slender voice.
10 THE KIVEK DUDDON.
What aspect bore the Man who roved or fled,
First of his tribe, to this dark dell — who first
In this pellucid Current slaked his thirst ?
What hopes came with him ? what designs were spread
Along his path ? His unprotected bed
What dreams encompassed ? Was the Intruder nurs'd
^ In hideous usages, and rites accurs'd,
That thinned the living and disturbed the dead ?
No voice replies ; — the earth, the air is mute ;
And Thou, blue Streamlet, murmuring yield'st no more
Than a soft record that whatever fruit
Of ignorance thou might'st witness heretofore,
Thy function was to heal and to restore.
To soothe and cleanse, not madden and pollute !
THE RIVER DUDDON. Ill
The struggling Rill insensibly is grown
Into a Brook of loud and stately march,
Cross'd ever and anon by plank and arch ;
And, for like use, lo ! what might seem a zone
Chosen for ornament ; stone match'd with stone
In studied symmetry, with interspace
For the clear waters to pursue their race
Without restraint. — How swiftly have they flown I
Succeeding — still succeeding ! Here the Child
Puts, when the high-swoln Flood runs fierce and wild,
His budding courage to the proof; — and here
Declining Manhood learns to note the sly
And sure encroachments of infirmity.
Thinking how fast time runs, life's end how near !
12 THE RIVER DUDDON.
THE SAME SUBJECT.
Not so that Pair whose youthful spirits dance
With prompt emotion, urging them to pass ;
A sweet confusion checks the Shepherd-lass ;
Blushing she eyes the dizzy flood askance, —
To stop ashamed — too timid to advance;
She ventures once again — another pause !
His outstretched hand He tauntingly withdraws —
She sues for help with piteous utterance !
Chidden she chides again ; the thrilling touch
Both feel when he renews the wish'd-for aid :
Ah ! if their fluttering hearts should stir too much,
Should beat too strongly, both may be betrayed.
The frolic Loves who, from yon high rock, see
The struggle, clap their wings for victory 1
THE RIVER DUDDON. 13
THE FAERY CHASM.
No fiction was it of the antique age :
A sky-blue stone, within this sunless cleft,
Is of the very foot-marks unbereft
Which tiny Elves impressed ; — on that smooth stage
Dancing with all their brilliant equipage
In secret revels — haply after theft
Of some sweet babe, flower stolen, and coarse weed left,
For the distracted mother to assuage
Her grief with, as she might ! — But, where, oh where
Is traceable a vestige of the notes
That ruled those dances, wild in character ?
— Deep underground? — Or in the upper air,
On the shrill wind of midnight ? or where floats
O'er twilight fields the autumnal gossamer ?
U THE RIVER DUDDON.
HINTS FOR THE FANCY.
On, loitering Muse ! — The swift Stream chides us — on
Albeit his deep-worn channel doth immure
Objects immense, pourtray'd in miniature,
Wild shapes for many a strange comparison !
Niagaras, Alpine passes, and anon
Abodes of Naiads, calm abysses pure,
Bright liquid mansions, fashion'd to endure
When the broad Oak drops, a leafless skeleton.
And the solidities of mortal pride.
Palace and Tower, are crumbled into dust !
— The Bard who walks with Duddon for his guide,
Shall find such toys of Fancy thickly set : —
Turn from the sight, enamoured Muse — we must ;
Leave them — and, if thou canst, without regret !
THE RIVER DUDDON. 15
Hail to the fields — with Dwellings sprinkled o'er.
And one small Hamlet, under a green hill,
Clustered with barn and byer, and spouting mill !
A glance suffices, — should we wish for more.
Gay June would scorn us ; — but when bleak winds roar
Through the stiff lance-like shoots of pollard ash,
Dread swell of sound ! loud as the gusts that lash
The matted forests of Ontario's shore
By wasteful steel unsmitten, then would I
Turn into port, — and, reckless of the gale,
Reckless of angry Duddon sweeping by,
While the warm hearth exalts the mantling ale,
Laugh with the generous household heartily,
At all the merry pranks of Donnerdale !
16 THE RIVER DUDDON.
O Mountain Stream ! the Shepherd and his Cot
Are privileged Inmates of deep solitude ;
Nor would the nicest Anchorite exclude
A field or two of brighter green, or plot
Of tillage-ground, that seemeth like a spot
Of stationary sunshine : — thou hast viewed
These only, Duddon ! with their paths renewed
By fits and starts, yet this contents thee not.
Thee hath some awful Spirit impelled to leave,
Utterly to desert, the haunts of men,
Though simple thy companions were and few ;
And through this wilderness a passage cleave
Attended but by thy own voice, save when
The Clouds and Fowls of the air thy way pursue !
THE RIVER DUDDON. 17
From this deep chasm — where quivering sun-beams play
Upon its loftiest crags — mine eyes behold
A gloomy Niche, capacious, blank, and cold ;
A concave free from shrubs and mosses grey ;
In semblance fresh, as if, with dire affray.
Some Statue, placed amid these regions old
For tutelary service, thence had rolled.
Startling the flight of timid Yesterday !
Was it by mortals sculptured ? — weary slaves
Of slow endeavour ! or abruptly cast
Into rude shape by fire, with roaring blast
Tempestuously let loose from central caves ?
Or fashioned by the turbulence of waves.
Then, when o'er highest hills the Deluge past ?
18 THE RIVER DUDDON.
Such fruitless questions may not long beguile
Or plague the fancy, mid the sculptured shows
Conspicuous yet where Oroonoko flows ;
There would the Indian answer with a smile
Aim^d at the White Man's ignorance, the while
Of the Great Waters telling, how they rose,
Covered the plains, and wandering where they chose^
Mounted through every intricate defile.
Triumphant, — Inundation wide and deep.
O'er which his Fathers urged, to ridge and steep
Else unapproachable, their buoyant way ;
And carved, on mural cliff's undreaded side,
Sun, moon, and stars, and beast of chase or prey ;
Whatever they sought, shunn'd, loved, or deified ! *
* See Humboldt's Personal Narrative.
THE RIVER DUDDON. 19
A DARK plume fetch me from yon blasted Yew
Perched on whose top the Danish Raven croaks;
Aloft, the imperial Bird of Rome invokes
Departed ages, shedding where he flew
Loose fragments of wild wailing that bestrew
The clouds, and thrill the chambers of the rocks,
And into silence hush the timorous flocks,
That slept so calmly while the nightly dew
Moisten'd each fleece, beneath the twinkling stars :
These couch'd mid that lone Camp on Hardknot's height.
Whose Guardians bent the knee to Jove and Mars :
These near that mystic Round of Druid frame,
Tardily sinking by its proper weight
Deep into patient Earth, from whose smooth breast it came !
20 THE RIVER DUDDON.
Sacred Religion, " mother of form and fear/'
Dread Arbitress of mutable respect,
New rites ordaining when the old are wrecked.
Or cease to please the fickle worshipper ;
If one strong wish may be embosomed here.
Mother of Love ! for this deep vale, protect
Truth's holy lamp, pure source of bright effect.
Gifted to purge the vapoury atmosphere
That seeks to stifle it ; — as in those days
W^hen this low Pile a Gospel Teacher knew.
Whose good works formed an endless retinue :
Such Priest as Chaucer sang in fervent lays ;
Such as the heaven-taught skill of Herbert drew;
And tender Goldsmith crown'd with deathless praise !
THE RIVER DUDDON. 21
My frame hath often trembled with delight
When hope presented some far-distant good.
That seemed from heaven descending, like the flood
Of yon pure waters, from their aery height.
Hurrying with lordly Duddon to unite ;
Who, mid a world of images imprest
On the calm depth of his transparent breast,
Appears to cherish most that Torrent white,
The fairest, softest, liveliest of them all !
And seldom hath ear listened to a tune
More lulling than the busy hum of Noon,
Swoln by that voice — whose murmur musical
Announces to the thirsty fields a boon
Dewy and fresh, till showers again shall fall.
22 THE RIVER DUDDOK
THE PLAIN OF DONNERDALE.
The old inventive Poets, had they seen,
Or rather felt, the entrancement that detains
Thy waters, Duddon I mid these flow'ry plains,
The still repose, the liquid lapse serene,
Transferr'd to bowers imperishably green.
Had beautified Elysium ! But these chains
Will soon be broken ; — a rough course remains,
Rough as the past ; where Thou, of placid mien,
Innocuous as a firstling of a flock.
And countenanced like a soft cerulean sky,
Shalt change thy temper ; and, with many a shock
Given and received in mutual jeopardy,
Dance like a Bacchanal from rock to rock,
Tossing her frantic thyrsus wide and high !
THE RIVER DUDDON. 23
Whence that low voice ? — A whisper from the heart.
That told of days long past when here I roved
With friends and kindred tenderly beloved ;
Some who had early mandates to depart,
Yet are allowed to steal my path athwart
By Duddon's side ; once more do we unite,
Once more beneath the kind Earth's tranquil light ;
And smothered joys into new being start.
From her unworthy seat, the cloudy stall
Of Time, breaks forth triumphant Memory ;
Her glistening tresses bound, yet light and free
As golden locks of birch, that rise and fall
On gales that breathe too gently to recal
Aught of the fading year's inclemency !
24? * THE RIVER DUDDON.
A LOVE-LORN Maid, at some far-distant time,
Came to this hidden pool, whose depths surpass
In crystal clearness Dian's looking-glass ;
And, gazing, saw that rose, which from the prime
Derives its name, reflected as the chime
Of echo doth reverberate some sweet sound :
The starry treasure from the blue profound
She long'd to ravish ; — shall she plunge, or climb
The humid precipice, and seize the guest
Of April, smiling high in upper air?
Desperate alternative ! what fiend could dare
To prompt the thought ? — Upon the steep rock's breast
The lonely Primrose yet renews its bloom,
Untouched memento of her hapless doom !
THE RIVER DUDDON. 25
Sad thoughts, avaunt ! — the fervour of the year.
Poured on the fleece- encumbered flock, invites
To laving currents, for prelusive rites
Duly performed before the Dales-men shear
Their panting charge. The distant Mountains hear.
Hear and repeat, the turmoil that unites
Clamour of boys with innocent despites
Of barking dogs, and bleatings from strange fear.
Meanwhile, if Duddon's spotless breast receive
Unwelcome mixtures as the uncouth noise
Thickens, the pastoral River will forgive
Such wrong ; nor need we blame the licensed joys
Though false to Nature's quiet equipoise :
Frank are the sports, the stains are fugitive.
26 THE RIVER DUDDON.
Mid-noon is past ; — upon the sultry mead
No zephyr breathes, no cloud its shadow throws:
If we advance unstrengthen'd by repose,
Farewell the solace of the vagrant reed.
This Nook, with woodbine hung and straggling weed.
Tempting recess as ever pilgrim chose,
Half grot, half arbour, proffers to enclose
Body and mind, from molestation freed.
In narrow compass — narrow as itself:
Or if the Fancy, too industrious Elf,
Be loth that we should breathe awhile exempt
From new incitements friendly to our task.
There wants not stealthy prospect, that may tempt
Loose Idless to forego her wily mask.
THE RIVER DUDDON. / 27
Methinks 'twere no unprecedented feat
Should some benignant Minister of air
Lift, and encircle with a cloudy chair,
The One for whom my heart shall ever beat
V^ith tenderest love ; — or, if a safer seat
Atween his downy wings be furnished, there
Would lodge her, and the cherish'd burden bear
O'er hill and valley to this dim retreat !
Rough ways my steps have trod ; too rough and long
For her companionship ; here dwells soft ease :
With sweets which she partakes not some distaste
Mingles, and lurking consciousness of wrong ;
Languish the flowers ; the waters seem to waste
Their vocal charm ; their sparklings cease to please.
m THE RIVER DUDDON.
Return, Content ! for fondly I pursued,
Even when a child, the Streams — unheard, unseen ;
Through tangled woods, impending rocks between ;
Or, free as air, with flying inquest viewed
The sullen reservoirs whence their bold brood.
Pure as the morning, fretful, boisterous, keen.
Green as the salt-sea billows, white and green.
Poured down the hills, a choral multitude I
Nor have I tracked their course for scanty gains ;
They taught me random cares and truant joys,
That shield from mischief and preserve from stains
Vague minds, while men are growing out of boys;
Maturer Fancy owes to their rough noise
Impetuous thoughts that brook not servile reins.
THE RIVER DUDDON. 29
1 ROSE while yet the cattle, heat-opprest,
Crowded together under rustling trees,
Brushed by the current of the water-breeze ;
And for their sakes, and love of all that rest,
On Duddon's margin, in the sheltering nest ;
For all the startled scaly tribes that slink
Into his coverts, and each fearless link
Of dancing insects forged upon his breast;
For these, and hopes and recollections worn
Close to the vital seat of human clay ;
Glad meetings — tender partings — that upstay
The drooping mind of absence, by vows sworn
In his pure presence near the trysting thorn ;
I thanked the Leader of my onward way.
30 THE RIVER DUDDON.
No record tells of lance opposed to lance,
Horse charging horse mid these retired domains ;
Nor that their turf drank purple from the veinj»
Of heroes falPn, or struggling to advance,
Till doubtful combat issued in a trance
Of victory, that struck through heart and reins.
Even to the inmost seat of mortal pains,
And lightened o'er the pallid countenance.
Yet, to the loyal and the brave, who lie
In the blank earth, neglected and forlorn,
The passing V^inds memorial tribute pay ;
The Torrents chaunt their praise, inspiring scorn
Of power usurped, — with proclamation high.
And glad acknowledgment of lawful sway.
THE RIVER DUDDON. M
Who swerves from innocence, who makes divorce
Of that serene companion — a good liame,
Recovers not his loss ; but walks with shame,
With doubt, with fear, and haply with remorse.
And oft-times he, who, yielding to the force
Of chance-temptation, ere his journey end,
From chosen comrade turns, or faithful friend,
In vain shall rue the broken intercourse.
Not so with such as loosely wear the chain
That binds them, pleasant River ! to thy side : —
Through the rough copse wheel Thou with hasty stride,
I choose to saunter o'er the grassy plain.
Sure, when the separation has been tried.
That we, who part in love, shall meet again.
32 THE RIVER DUDDON.
The Kirk of Ulpha to the Pilgrim's eye
Is welcome as a Star^ that doth present
Its shining forehead through the peaceful rent
Of a black cloud diffused o'er half the sky ;
Or as a fruitful palm-tree towering high
O'er the parched waste beside an Arab's tent ;
Or the Indian tree whose branches, downward bent,
Take root again, a boundless canopy.
How sweet were leisure ! could it yield no more
Than mid that wave-washed Church-yard to recline,
From pastoral graves extracting thoughts divine ;
Or there to pace, and mark the summits hoar
Of distant moon-lit mountains faintly shine,
Sooth'd by the unseen River's gentle roar.
THE RIVER DUDDON, 33
Not hurled precipitous from steep to steep ;
Lingering no more mid flower-enamelled lands
And blooming thickets ; nor by rocky bands
Held; — but in radiant progress toward the Deep
Where mightiest rivers into powerless sleep
Sink, and forget their nature ; — 7iow expands
Majestic Duddon, over smooth flat sands,
Gliding in silence with unfettered sweep !
Beneath an ampler sky a region wide
Is opened round him ; — hamlets, towers, and towns,
And blue-topp'd hills, behold him from afar ;
In stately mien to sovereign Thames allied.
Spreading his bosom under Kentish downs.
With Commerce freighted or triumphant War.
84 THE RIVER DUDDON.
But here no cannon thunders to the gale ;
Upon the wave no haughty pendants cast
A crimson splendour ; lowly is the mast
That rises here, and humbly spread the sail ;
While less disturbed than in the narrow Vale
Through which with strange vicissitudes he pass'd,
The Wanderer seeks that receptacle vast
Where all his unambitious functions fail.
And may thy Poet, cloud-born Stream ! be free.
The sweets of earth contentedly resigned.
And each tumultuous working left behind
At seemly distance, to advance like Thee,
Prepared, in peace of heart, in calm of mind
And soul, to mingle with Eternity!
THE RIVER DUDDON, 35
I THOUGHT of Thee, my partner and my guide,
As being past away. — Vain sympathies !
For, backward, Duddon ! as I cast my eyes,
I see what was, and is, and will abide ;
Still glides the Stream, and shall for ever glide ;
The Form remains, the Function never dies ;
While we, the brave, the mighty, and the wise,
We Men, who in our morn of youth defied
The elements, must vanish ; — be it so !
Enough, if something from our hands have power
To live, and act, and serve the future hour ;
And if, as tow'rd the silent tomb we go,
Thro' love, thro' hope, and faith's transcendant dower,
We feel that we are greater than we know.
A Poet, whose works are not yet known as they deserve
to be, thus enters upon his description of the " Ruins of
" The rising Sun
Flames on the ruins in the purer air
Towering aloft ;"
and ends thus,
"The setting Sun displays
His visible great round, between yon towers.
As through two shady cliffs."
Mr. Crowe, in his excellent loco-descriptive Poem,
" Lewesdon Hill," is still more expeditious, finishing the
whole on a May-morning, before breakfast.
" To-morrow for severer thought, but now
To breakfast, and keep festival to-day."
No one believes, or is desired to believe, that these Poems
were actually composed within such limits of time, nor was
there any reason why a prose statement should acquaint the
Reader with the plain fact, to the disturbance of poetic cre-
dibihty. But, in the present case, I am compelled to men-
tion, that the above series of Sonnets was the growth of
many years; — the one which stands the 14th was the first
produced ; and others were added upon occasional visits to
the Stream, or as recollections of the scenes upon its banks
awakened a wish to describe them. In this manner I had
proceeded insensibly, without perceiving that I was tres-
passing upon ground pre-occupied, at least as far as inten-
tion went, by Mr. Coleridge ; who, more than twenty years
ago, used to speak of writing a rural Poem, to be entitled
" The Brook," of which he has given a sketch in a recent
publication. But a particular subject cannot, I think, much
interfere with a general one ; and I have been further kept
from encroaching upon any right Mr. C. may still wish to
exercise, by the restriction which the frame of the Sonnet
imposed upon me, narrowing unavoidably the range of
thought, and precluding, though not without its advantages,
many graces to which a freer movement of verse would na-
turally have led.
May I not venture, then, to hope, that instead of being a
hinderance, by anticipation of any part of the subject,
these Sonnets may remind Mr. Coleridge of his own more
comprehensive design, and induce him to fulfil it ? .
There is a sympathy in streams, " one calleth to another ;"
and, I would gladly believe, that " Tlie Brook" will, ere
long, murmur in concert with " The Duddon." But, asking
pardon for this fancy, I need not scruple to say, that those
verses must indeed be ill-fated which can enter upon such
pleasant walks of nature, without receiving and giving in-
spiration. The power of waters over the minds of Poets has
been acknowledged from the earliest ages ; — through the
*' Flumina amem sylvas que inglorius" of Virgil, down to
the sublime apostrophe to the great rivers of the earth, by
Armstrong, and the simple ejaculation of Burns, (chosen,
if I recollect right, by Mr. Coleridge, as a motto for his
embryo " Brook")
" The Muse nae Poet ever fand her.
Till by himsel' he learned to wander,
Adown some trotting burn's meander,,
And na* think lang."
" There bloomed the strawberry of the wilderness,
The trembling eye-bright showed her sapphire blue/'
These two lines are in a great measure taken from " The
Beauties of Spring, a Juvenile Poem," by the Rev. Joseph
Sympson, author of " The Vision of Alfred," &c. He was
a native of Cumberland, and was educated in the vale of
Grasmere, and at Hawkshead school : his poems are little
known, but they contain passages of splendid description;
and the versification of his " Vision of Alfred" is harmo-
nious and animated. The present severe season, with its
amusements, reminds me of some lines which I will trans-
cribe as a favourable specimen. In describing the motions
of the Sylphs, that constitute the strange machinery of his
" Vision of Alfred," he uses the following illustrative simile: —
" glancing from their plumes
A changeful light the azure vault illumes.
Less varying hues beneath the Pole adorn
The streamy glories of the Boreal morn,
That wavering to and fro their radiance shed
On Bothnia's gulph with glassy ice o'erspread,
Where the lone native, as he homeward glides,
On polish'd sandals o'er the imprisoned tides,
And still the balance of his frame preserves,
^Vheel'd on alternate foot in lengthening curves,
Sees at a glance, above him and below, v
Two rival heav'ns with equal splendour glow.
Sphered in the centre of the world he seems.
For all around with soft effulgence gleams ;
Stars, moons, and meteors ray oppose to ray.
And solemn midnight pours the blaze of day."
He was a man of ardent feeling, and his faculties of
mind, particularly his memory, were extraordinary. Brief
notices of his life ought to find a place in the History of
The Eagle requires a large domain for its support ; but
several pairs, not many years ago, were constantly resident
in this country, building their nests in the steeps of Borrow-
dale, Wastdale, Ennerdale, and on the eastern side of
Helvellyn. Often have I heard anglers speak of the grandeur
of their appearance, as they hovered over Red Tarn, in one
of the coves of this mountain. The bird frequently returns,
but is always destroyed. Not long since one visited Rydal
Lake, and remained some hours near its banks ; the con-
sternation which it occasioned among the different species of
fowl, particularly the herons, was expressed by loud screams.
The horse also is naturally afraid of the eagle There were
several Roman stations among these mountains ; the most
considerable seems to have been in a meadow at the head of
Windermere, established, undoubtedly, as a check over the
passes of Kirkstone, Dunmail-raise, and of Hardknot and
Wrynose. On the margin of Rydal Lake, a coin of Trajan
was discovered very lately. — The Roman Fort here alluded
to, called by the country people ^^ Hardknot Castle^'' is most
impressively situated half way down the hill on the right
of the road that descends from Hardknot into Eskdale. It
has escaped the notice of most antiquarians, and is but
slightly mentioned by Lysons. — The Druidical Circle is
about half a mile to the left of the road ascending Stone-
side from the vale of Duddon : the country people call it
** Sunken Church"
The reader who may have been interested in the fore-
going Sonnets, (which together may be considered as a
Poem,) will not be displeased to find in this place a prose-
account of the Duddon, extracted from Green's compre-
hensive Guide to the Lakes, lately published. " The road
leading from Coniston to Broughton is over high ground, and
commands a view of the river Duddon ; which at high water
is a grand sight, having the beautiful and fertile lands of
Lancashire and Cumberland stretching each way from its
margin. In this extensive view, the face of nature is dis-
played in a wonderful variety of hill and dale ; wooded
grounds and buildings ; amongst the latter, Broughton Tower,
seated on the crown of a hill, rising elegantly from the
valley, is an object of extraordinary interest. Fertility on
each side is gradually diminished, and lost in the superior
heights of Blackcomb, in Cumberland, and the high lands
between Kirkby and Ulverstone."
" The road from Broughton to Seathwaite is on the banks
of the Duddon, and on its Lancashire side it is of various
elevations. The river is an amusing companion, one while
brawling and tumbling over rocky precipices, until the agi-
tated water becomes again calm by arriving at a smoother
and less precipitous bed, but its course is soon again ruffled,
and the current thrown into every variety of form which the
rocky channel of a river can give to water." (Vide Green's
Guide to the Lakes, vol. i. pp. 98 — 100.)
After all, the traveller would be most gratified who should
approach this beautiful Stream, neither at its source, as is
done in the Sonnets, nor from its termination; but from
Coniston over Walna Scar; first descending into a Httle
circular valley, a collateral compartment of the long winding
vale through which flows the Duddon. This recess, towards
the close of September, when the after-grass of the meadows
is still of a fresh green, with the leaves of many of the trees
faded, but perhaps none fallen, is truly enchanting. At a
point elevated enough to shew the various objects in the
valley, and not so high as to diminish their importance, the
stranger will instinctively halt. On the fore-ground, a little
below the most favourable station, a rude foot-bridge is
thrown over the bed of the noisy brook, foaming by the
way-side. Russet and craggy hills, of bold and varied
outline, surround the level valley which is besprinkled with
grey rocks plumed with birch trees. A few home-steads are
interspersed in some places, peeping out from among the
rocks like hermitages, whose scite has been chosen for the
benefit of sun-shine as well as shelter ; in other instances,
the dwelling-house, barn, and byer, compose together a
cruciform structure, which, with its embowering trees and
the ivy clothing part of the walls and roof, like a fleece,
call to mind the remains of an ancient abbey. Time, in most
cases, and nature every where, have given a sanctity to the
humble works of man, that are scattered over this peaceful
retirement. Hence a harmony of tone and colour, a per-
fection and consummation of beauty, which would have
been marred had aim or purpose interfered with the course
of convenience, utility, or necessity. This unvitiated region
stands in no need of the veil of twiHght to soften or disguise
its features. As it glistens in the morning sunshine, it would
fill the spectator's heart with gladsomeness. Looking from
our chosen station, he would feel an impatience to rove
among its pathways, to be greeted by the milk-maid, to
wander from house to house, exchanging " good-morrows'*
as he passed the open doors ; but, at evening, when the sun
is set, and a pearly light gleams from the western quarter of
the sky, with an answering light from the smooth surface
of the meadows ; when the trees are dusky, but each kind
still distinguishable ; when the cool air has condensed the
blue smoke rising from the cottage-chimneys ; when the dark
mossy stones seem to sleep in the bed of the foaming Brook ;
then, he would be unwiHing to move forward, not less from
a reluctance to relinquish what he beholds, than from an
apprehension of disturbing, by his approach, the quietness
beneath him. Issuing from the plain of this valley, the
Brook descends in a rapid torrent, passing by the church-
yard of Seathwaite. The traveller is thus conducted at once
into the midst of the wild and beautiful scenery which gave
occasion to the Sonnets from the 14th to the 20th inclusive.
From the point where the Seathwaite Brook joins the
Duddon, is a view upwards, into the pass through which the
River makes its way into the Plain of Donnerdale. The per-
pendicular rock on the right bears the ancient British name
of The Pen; the one opposite is called Walla-barrow
Crag, a name that occurs in several places to designate
rocks of the same character. The chaotic aspect of the
scene is well marked by the expression of a stranger, who
strolled out while dinner was preparing, and, at his return,
being asked by his host, *' What way he had been wander-
ing?" replied, " As far as it is finished T
The bed of the Duddon is here strewn with large frag-
ments of rock fallen from aloft ; which, as Mr. Green truly
says, " are happily adapted to the many-shaped water-falls,"
(or rather water-breaks, for none of them are high,) " dis-
played in the short space of half a mile." That there is
some hazard in frequenting these desolate places, I myself
have had proof; for one night an immense mass of rock fell
upon the very spot where, with a friend, I had lingered the
day before. " The concussion," says Mr. Green, speaking
of the event, (for he also, in the practice of his art, on that
day sat exposed for a still longer time to the same peril)
" was heard, not without alarm, by the neighbouring shep-
herds." But to return to Seathwaite Church-yard : it con-
tains the following inscription.
" In memory of the Reverend Robert Walker, who died
the 25th of June, 1802, in the 93d year of his age, and 67th
of his curacy at Seathwaite.
" Also, of Anne his wife, who died the 28th of January,
in the 93d year of her age."
In the parish-register of Seathwaite Chapel, is this notice :
" Buried, June 28th, the Rev. Robert Walker. He was
curate of Seathwaite sixty-six years. He was a man singu-
lar for his temperance, industry, and integrity."
This individual is the Pastor alluded to, in the eighteenth
Sonnet, as a worthy compeer of the Country Parson of
Chaucer, &c. An abstract of his character is given in the
author's poem of The Excursion * ; and some account of
his life, for it is worthy of being recorded, will not be out
of place here.
MEMOIR OF THE REV. ROBERT WALKER.
In the year 1709, Robert Walker was born at Under-
Crag, in Seathwaite ; he was the youngest of twelve children.
His eldest brother, who inherited the small family-estate,
died at Under-crag, aged ninety-four, being twenty -four years
older than the subject of this Memoir, who was born of the
same mother. Robert was a sickly infant ; and, through
his boyhood and youth continuing to be of delicate frame
and tender health, it was deemed best, according to the
country phrase, to breed him a scholar; for it was not likely
that he would be able to earn a livelihood by bodily labour.
At that period few of these Dales were furnished with school-
houses ; the children being taught to read and write in the
chapel ; and in the same consecrated building, where he
officiated for so many years both as preacher and school-
master, he himself received the rudiments of his education.
In his youth he became schoolmaster at Lowes-water ; not
being called upon, probably, in that situation, to teach more
than reading, writing, and arithmetic. But, by the assist-
* Page 326.
ance of a " Gentleman" in the neighbourhood, he acquired,
at leisure hours, a knowledge of the classics, and became
qualified for taking holy orders. Upon his ordination, he
had the offer of two curacies ; the one, Torver, in the vale of
Coniston, — the other, Seathwaite, in his native vale. The
value of each was the same, viz. five pounds per annum : but
the cure of Seathwaite having a cottage attached to it, as he
wished to marry, he chose it in preference. The young person
on whom his affections were fixed, though in the condition of
a domestic servant, had given promise, by her serious and
modest deportment, and by her virtuous dispositions, that
she was worthy to become the help-mate of a man entering
upon a plan of life such as he had marked out for himself. By
her frugality she had stored up a small sum of money, with
which they began housekeeping. In 1735 or 1736, he entered
upon his curacy ; and, nineteen years afterwards, his situation
is thus described, in some letters to be found in the Annual
Register for 1760, from which the following is extracted :
To Mr. — .
** Sir, Coniston, July 26. 1754.
" I was the other day upon a party of pleasure, about five
or six miles from this place, where I met with a very striking
object, and of a nature not very common. Going into a
clergyman's house (of whom I had frequently heard) I found
him sitting at the head of a long square table, such as is
commonly used in this country by the lower class of people,
dressed in a coarse blue frock, trimmed with black horn
buttons; a checked shirt, a leathern strap about his neck
for a stock, a coarse apron, and a pair of great wooden-
soled shoes, plated with iron to preserve them, (what we
call clogs in these parts,) with a child upon his knee eating
his breakfast ; his wife, and the remainder of his children,
were some of them employed in waiting on each other, the
rest in teazing and spinning wool, at which trade he is a
great proficient ; and moreover, when it is made ready for
sale, will lay it by sixteen, or thirty -two pounds weight, upon
his back, and on foot, seven or eight miles will carry it to
the market, even in the depth of winter. I was not much
surprised at all this, as you may possibly be, having heard a
great deal of it related before. But I must confess myself"
astonished with the alacrity and the good humour that ap-
peared both in the clergyman and his wife, and more so, at
the sense and ingenuity of the clergyman himself." * *
Then follows a letter, from another person, dated 1755,
from which an extract shall be given.
" By his frugality and good management, he keeps the
wolf from the door, as we say ; and if he advances a little in
the world, it is owing more to his own care, than to any
thing else he has to rely upon. I don't find his inclination is
running after further preferment. He is settled among the
people, that are happy among themselves ; and lives in the
greatest unanimity and friendship with them ; and, I believe,
the minister and people are exceedingly satisfied with each
other; and indeed how should they be dissatisfied, when
they have a person of so much worth and probity for their
pastor? A man, who, for his candour and meekness, his
sober, chaste, and virtuous conversation, his soundness in
principle and practice, is an ornament to his profession, and
an honour to the country he Is in ; and bear with me if I say,
the plainness of his dress, the sanctity of his manners, the
simplicity of his doctrine, and the vehemence of his expres-
sion, have a sort of resemblance to the pure practice of pri-
We will now give his own account of himself, to be found
in the same place.
From the Rev. Robert Walker.
" Yours of the 26th instant was communicated to me by
Mr. C — , and I should have returned an immediate answer,
but the hand of Providence then lying heavy upon an amiable
pledge of conjugal endearment, hath since taken from me a
promising girl, which the disconsolate mother too pensively
laments the loss of; though we have yet eight living, all
healthful, hopeful children, whose names and ages are as
follows : Zaccheus, aged almost eighteen years ; Elizabeth,
sixteen years and ten months ; Mary, fifteen ; Moses, thir-
teen years and three months; Sarah, ten years and three
months; Mabel, eight years and three months; William
Tyson, three years and eight months ; and Anne Esther, one
year and three months : besides Anne who died two years
and six months ago, and was then aged between nine and
ten; and Eleanor, who died the 23d inst., January, aged
six years and ten months. Zaccheus, the eldest child, is now
learning the trade of tanner, and has two years and a half of
his apprenticeship to serve. The annual income of my chapel
at present, as near as I can compute it, may amount to about
171' lOs. of which is paid in cash, viz. 5L from the bounty
of Queen Anne, and 51. from W. P. Esq. of P — , out of the
annual rents, he being lord of the manor, and Si. from the
several inhabitants of L — , settled upon the tenements as a
rent-charge ; the house and gardens I value at 4/. yearly, and
not worth more ; and, I believe the surplice fees and volun-
tary contributions, one year with another, may be worth Si. ;
but, as the inhabitants are few in number, and the fees very
low, this last-mentioned sum consists merely in free-will
" I am situated greatly to my satisfaction with regard to the
conduct and behaviour of my auditory, who not only live in
the happy ignorance of the follies and vices of the age, but
in mutual peace and good-will with one another, and are
seemingly (I hope really too) sincere Christians, and sound
members of the established church, not one dissenter of any
denomination being amongst them all. I got to the value of
40/. for my wife's fortune, but had no real estate of my own,
being the youngest son of twelve children, born of obscure
parents ; and though my income has been but small, and my
family large, yet, by a providential blessing upon my own
diligent endeavours, the kindness of friends, and a cheap
country to live in, we have always had the necessaries of life.
By what I have written (which is a true and exact account to
the best of my knowledge) I hope you will not think your
favour to me, out of the late worthy Dr. Stratford's effects,
quite mis-bestowed, for which I must ever gratefully own
*' Your much obliged and most obedient humble Servant,
" R. W., Curate of S —
" To Mr. C, of Lancaster."
About the time when this letter was written, the Bishop of
Chester recommended the scheme of joining the curacy of
Ulpha to the contiguous one of Seathwaite, and the nomin-
ation was offered to Mr. Walker ; but an unexpected difficulty
arising, Mr. W. in a letter to the Bishop, (a copy of which,
in his own beautiful hand-writing, now lies before me,) thus
expresses himself: "If he," meaning the person in whom
the difficulty originated, " had suggested any such objection
before, I should utterly have declined any attempt to the
curacy of Ulpha ; indeed, I was always apprehensive it
might be disagreeable to my auditory at Seathwaite, as they
have been always accustomed to double duty, and the in-
habitants of Ulpha despair of being able to support a school-
master who is not curate there also ; which suppressed all
thoughts in «ie of serving them both.'* And in a second
letter to the Bishop he writes :
" My Lord,
" I have the favour of yours of the 1st inst., and am
exceedingly obliged on account of the Ulpha affair : if that
curacy should lapse into your Lordship's hands, I would beg
leave rather to decline than embrace it ; for the chapels of
Seathwaite and Ulpha annexed together, would be apt to
cause a general discontent among the inhabitants of both
places ; by either thinking themselves slighted, being only
served alternately, or neglected in the duty, or attributing
it to covetousness in me ; all which occasions of murmuring
T would willingly avoid." And in concluding his former
letter, he expresses a similar sentiment upon the same oc-
casion, " desiring, if it be possible, however, as much as in
me lieth, to live peaceably with all men.*'
The year following, the curacy of Seathwaite was again
augmented ; and to effect this augmentation, fifty pounds had
been advanced by himself ; and in 1760, lands were pur-
chased with eight hundred 'pounds. Scanty as was his in-
come, the frequent offer of much better benefices could not
tempt Mr. W. to quit a situation where he had been so long
happy, with a consciousness of being useful. Among his
papers I find the following copy of a letter, dated 1775,
twenty years after his refusal of the curacy of Ulpha, which
will show what exertions had been made for one of his sons.
" May it please your Grace,
« Our remote situation here makes it difficult to get the
necessary information for transacting business regularly :
such is the reason of my giving your Grace the present
" The bearer (my son) is desirous of offering himself candi-
date for deacon's orders, at your Grace's ensuing ordination ;
the first, on the 25th inst. so that his papers could not be
transmitted in due time. As he is now fully at age, and I
have afforded him education to the utmost of my ability, it
would give me great satisfaction (if your Grace would take
him, and find him qualified) to have him ordained. His
constitution has been tender for some years; he entered
the college of Dublin, but his health would not permit him
to continue there, or I would have supported him much
longer. He has been with me at home above a year, in
which time he has gained great strength of body, sufficient,
I hope, to enable him for performing the function. Divine
Providence, assisted by liberal benefactors, has blest my
endeavours, from a small income, to rear a numerous family ;
and as my time of life renders me now unfit for much future
expectancy from this world, I should be glad to see my
son settled in a promising way to acquire an honest livelihood
for himself. His behaviour, so far in life, has been irre-
proachable ; and I hope he will not degenerate, in principles
or practice, from the precepts and pattern of an indulgent
parent. Your Grace's favourable reception of this, from a
distant corner of the diocese, and an obscure hand, will
excite filial gratitude, and a due use shall be made of the
obligation vouchsafed thereby to
" Your Grace's very dutiful and most obedient
** Son and Servant,
«' Robert Walker/'
The same man, ^ho tvas thus liberal in the education of
his numerous family, was even munificent in hospitality as a
parish priest. Every Sunday, were served, upon the long
table, at which he has been described sitting with a child
upon his knee, messes of broth, for the refreshment of those
of his congregation who came from a distance, and usually
took their seats as parts of his own household. It seems
scarcely possible that this custom could have commenced
before the augmentation of his cure; and, what would to many
have been a high price of self-denial, was paid, by the pastor
and his family, for this gratification ; as the treat could only
be provided by dressing at one time the whole, perhaps, of
their weekly allowance of fresh animal food ; consequently,
for a succession of days, the table was covered with cold
victuals only. His generosity in old age may be still further
illustrated by a little circumstance relating to an orphan
grandson, then ten years of age, which I find in a copy of a
letter to one of his sons ; he requests that half-a-guinea may
be left for " little Robert's pocket-money," who was then at
school ; entrusting it to the care of a lady^ who, as he says.
NOTES. *V ^ 57
<• may sometimes frustrate his squandering it away foolishly,"
and promising to send him an equal allowance annually for
the same purpose. The conclusion of the same letter is so
characteristic, that I cannot forbear to transcribe it. " We,'*
meaning his wife and himself, " are in our wonted state of
health, allowing for the hasty strides of old age knocking
daily at our door, and threateningly telling us, we are not
only mortal, but must expect ere long to take our leave of
our ancient cottage, and lie down in our last dormitory.
Pray pardon my neglect to answer yours : let us hear sooner
from you, to augment the mirth of the Christmas holidays.
Wishing you all the pleasures of the approaching season, I
am, dear Son, with lasting sincerity, yours affectionately,
" Robert Walker."
He loved old customs and usages, and in some instances
stuck to them to his own loss ; for, having had a sum of money
lodged in the hands of a neighbouring tradesman, when long
course of time had raised the rate of interest ; and more
was offered, he refused to accept it ; an act not difficult to
one, who, while he was drawing seventeen pounds a-year
from his curacy, declined, as we have seen, to add the
profits of another small benefice to his own, lest he should
be suspected of cupidity. — From this vice he was utterly
free ; he made no charge for teaching school ; such as could
afford to pay, gave him Vhat they pleased. When very
young, having kept a diary of his expenses however trifling,
the large amount, at the end of the year, surprised him ;
58 ♦ NOTES.
and from that time the rule of his life was to be ceconomical,
not avaricious. At his decease he left behind him no less a
sum than £2000. and such a sense of his various excel-
lences was prevalent in the country, that the epithet of
WONDERFUL is to this day attached to his name.
There is in the above sketch something so extraordinary
as to require further explanatory details. — And to begin
with his industry ; eight hours in each day, during five days
in the week, and half of Saturday, except when the labours
of husbandry were urgent, he was occupied in teaching.
His seat was within the rails of the altar ; the communion-
table was his desk ; and, like Shenstone's school-mistress,
the master employed himself at the spinning-wheel, while
the children were repeating their lessons by his side. Every
evening, after school hours, if not more profitably engaged,
he continued the same kind of labour, exchanging, for the
benefit of exercise, the small wheel, at which he had sate,
for the large one on which wool is spun, the spinner
stepping to and fro. — Thus, was the wheel constantly in
readiness to prevent the waste of a moment's time. Nor
was his industry with the pen, when occasion called for
it, less eager. Entrusted with extensive management of
public and private affairs, he acted in his rustic neighbour-
hood as scrivener, writing out petitions, deeds of convey-
ance, wills, covenants, &c. with pecuniary gain to himself,^
and to the great benefit of his employers. These labours
(at all times considerable) at one period of the year, viz. be-
tween Christmas and Candlemas, when money transactions
are settled in this country, were often so intense, that he
passed great part of the night, and sometimes whole nights,
at his desk. His garden also was tilled by his own hand ;
he had a right of pasturage upon the mountains for a few
sheep and a couple of cows, which required his attendance;
with this pastoral occupation, he joined the labours of hus-
bandry upon a small scale, renting two or three acres in
addition to his own less than one acre of glebe ; and the
humblest drudgery which the cultivation of these fields
required was performed by himself.
He also assisted his neighbours in hay -making and shear-
ing their flocks, and in the performance of this latter ser-
vice he was eminently dexterous. They, in their turn, com-
plimented him with a present of a hay-cock, or a fleece;
less as a recompence for this particular service than as a ge-
neral acknowledgment. The Sabbath was in a strict sense
kept holy ; the Sunday evenings being devoted to reading
the Scripture and family prayer. The principal festivals
appointed by the Church were also duly observed ; but
through every other day in the week, through every week
in the year, he was incessantly occupied in work of hand or
mind ; not allowing a moment for recreation, except upon
a Saturday afternoon, when he indulged himself with a
Newspaper, or sometimes with a Magazine. The frugality
and temperance established in his house, were as admirable
as the industry. Nothing to which the name of luxury*
60 ^* NOTES.
could be given was there known ; in the latter part of his
life, indeed, when tea had been brought into almost general
use, it was provided for visitors, and for such of his own fa-
mily as returned occasionally to his roof, and had been
accustomed to this refreshment elsewhere ; but neither he
nor his wife ever partook of it. The raiment worn by his
family was comely and decent, but as simple as their diet ;
the home-spun materials were made up into apparel by their
own hands. At the time of the decease of this thrifty pair,
their cottage contained a large store of webs of woollen and
linen cloth, woven from thread of their own spinning. And
it is remarkable, that the pew in the chapel in which the
family used to sit, remained a few years ago neatly lined
with woollen cloth spun by the pastor's own hands. It is the
only pew in the chapel so distinguished ; and I know of no
other instance of his conformity to the delicate accommoda-
tions of modern times. The fuel of the house, like that of
their neighbours, consisted of peat, procured from the
mosses by their own labour. The lights by which in the
winter evenings their work was performed, were of their
own manufacture, such as still continue to be used in these
cottages ; they are made of the pith of rushes dipped in any
unctuous substance that the house affords. White candles,
as tallow candles are here called, were reserved to honour
the Christmas festivals, and were perhaps produced upon no
other occasions. Once a month, during the proper season,
ti sheep was drawn from their small mountain flock, and
killed for the use of the family ; and a cow, towards the
close of the year, was salted and dried, for winter provision :
the hide was tanned to furnish them with shoes By these
various resources, this venerable clergyman reared a numer-
ous family, not only preserving them, as he affectingly says,
" from wanting the necessaries of life ;" but afforded them an
unstinted education, and the means of raising themselves in
It might have been concluded that no one could thus, as
it were, have converted his body into a machine of industry
for the humblest uses, and kept his thoughts so frequently
bent upon secular concerns, without grievous injury to the
more precious parts of his nature. How could the powers
of intellect thrive, or its graces be displayed, in the midst of
circumstances apparently so unfavourable, and where, to the
direct cultivation of the mind, so small a portion of time was
allotted ? But, in this extraordinary man, things in their na-
ture adverse were reconciled ; his conversation was remark-
able, not only for being chaste and pure, but for the degree
in which it was fervent and eloquent ; his written style was
correct, simple, and animated. Nor did his affections suffer
more than his intellect ; he was tenderly alive to all the
duties of his pastoral office : the poor and needy " he never
sent empty away," — the stranger was fed and refreshed in
passing that unfrequented vale, — the sick were visited ; gifd
the feelings of humanity found further exercise among the
distresses and embarrassments in the worldly estate of his
neighbours, with which his talents for business made him
acquainted ; and the disinterestedness, impartiality, and up-
rightness which he maintained in the management of all af-
fairs confided to him, were virtues seldom separated in his
own conscience from religious obligations. Nor could such
conduct fail to remind those who witnessed it of a spirit
nobler than law or custom ; they felt convictions which, but
for such intercourse, could not have been afforded, that, as
in the practice of their pastor, there was no guile, so in his
faith there was nothing hollow ; and we are warranted in
believing that, upon these occasions, selfishness, obstinacy,
and discord would often give way before the breathings of
his good-will and saintly integrity. It may be presumed
also, while his humble congregation were listening to the
moral precepts which he delivered from the pulpit, and to
the Christian exhortations that they should love their neigh-
bour as themselves, and do as they would be done unto,
that peculiar efficacy tv^as given to the preacher's labours by
recollections in the minds of his congregation, that they
were called upon to do no more than his own actions were
daily setting before their eyes.
The afternoon service in the chapel was less numerously
attended than that of the morning, but by a more serious au-
ditory ; the lesson from the New Testament, on those occa-
sions, was accompanied by Birkett's Commentaries, These les-
sons he read with impassioned emphasis, frequently drawing
tears from his hearers, and leaving a lasting impression upon
their minds. His devotional feelings and the powers of his own
mind were further exercised, along with those of his family, in
perusing the Scriptures ; not only on the Sunday evenings, but
on every other evening, while the rest of the household were
at work, some one of the children, and in her turn the ser-
vant, for the sake of practice in reading, or for instruction,
read the Bible aloud ; and in this manner the whole was re-
peatedly gone through. That no common importance was
attached to the observance of religious ordinances by his
family, appears from the following memorandum by one of
his descendants, which I am tempted to insert at length, as
it is characteristic, and somewhat curious. " There is a
small chapel, in the county palatine of Lancaster, where a
certain clergyman has regularly officiated above sixty years,
and a few months ago administered the sacrament of the
Lord's Supper in the same, to a decent number of devout
communicants. After the clergyman had received himself,
the first company out of the assembly who approached the
altar, and kneeled down to be partakers of the sacred ele-
ments, consisted of the parson's wife, to whom he had been
married upwards of sixty years : one son and his wife ; four
daughters, each with her husband ; whose ages all added to-
gether amount to above 714 years. The several and respec-
tive distances from the place of each of their abodes to the
chapel where they all communicated, will measure more
than 1000 English miles. Though the narration will appear
surprising, it is without doubt a fact, that the same persons,
exactly four years before, met at the same place, and all
joined in performance of the same venerable duty."
He was indeed most zealously attached to the doctrine
and frame of the Established Church. We have seen him
congratulating himself that he had no dissenters in his cure
of any denomination. Some allowance must be made for
the state of opinion when his first religious impressions were
received, before the reader will acquit him of bigotry, when
I mention, that at the time of the augmentation of the cure,
he refused to invest part of the money in the purchase of an
estate offered to him upon advantageous terms, because the
proprietor was a Quaker; — whether from scrupulous appre-
hension that a blessing would not attend a contract framed for
the benefit of the Church between persons not in religious
sympathy with each other ; or, as a seeker of peace, he was
afraid of the uncomplying disposition which at one time was
too frequently conspicuous in that sect. Of this an instance
had fallen under his own notice ; for, while he taught school
at Loweswater, certain persons of that denomination had re-
fused to pay, or be distrained upon, for the accustomed an-
nual interest due from them, among others, under the title
of church stock ; a great hardship upon the incumbent, for
the curacy of Loweswater was then scarcely less poor than
that of Seathwaite. To what degree this prejudice of his
was blameable need not be determined ; — certain it is, that
he was not only desirous, as he himself says, to live in
peace, but in love, with all men. He was placable, and
charitable in his judgments ; and, however correct in con-
duct and rigorous to himself, he was ever ready to forgive
the trespasses of others, and to soften the censure that was
cast upon their frailties. — It would be unpardonable to omit
that, in the maintenance of his virtues, he received due sup-
port from the Partner of his long life. She was equally
strict in attending to her share of their joint cares, nor less
diligent in her appropriate occupations. A person who had
been some time their servant in the latter part of their lives,
concluded the panegyric of her mistress by saying to me,
" she was no less excellent than her husband; she was good
to the poor, she was good to every thing !" He survived for a
short time this virtuous companion. When she died, he
ordered that her body should be borne to the grave by three
of her daughters and one grandaughter ; and, when the
corpse was lifted from the threshold, he insisted upon lend-
ing his aid, and feehng about, for he was then almost blind,
took hold of a napkin fixed to the coffin ; and, as a bearer of
the body, entered the Chapel, a few steps from the lowly
What a contrast does the life of this obscurely-seated, and,
in point of worldly wealth, poorly-repaid Churchman, pre-
sent to that of a Cardinal Wolsey !
" O 'tis a burthen, Cromwell, 'tis a burthen
Too heavy for a man who hopes for heaven ! "
We have been dwelling upon images of peace in the moral
world, that have brought us again to the quiet enclosure of
consecrated ground, in which this venerable pair lie interred.
The sounding brook, that rolls close by the church-yard
without disturbing feeling or meditation, is now unfortu-
nately laid bare ; but not long ago it participated, with the
chapel, the shade of some stately ash-trees, which will not
spring again. While the spectator from this spot is looking
round upon the girdle of stony mountains that encompasses
the vale, — masses of rock, out of which monuments for all
men that ever existed might have been hewn, it would sur-
prise him to be told, as with truth he might be, that the plain
blue slab dedicated to the memory of this aged pair, is a
production of a quarry in North Wales. It was sent as a
mark of respect by one of their descendants from the vale
of Festiniog, a region almost as beautiful as that in which it
now lies !
Upon the Seathwaite Brook, at a small distance from the
Parsonage, has been erected a mill for spinning yarn ; it is a
mean and disagreeable object, though not unimportant to
the spectator, as calling to mind the momentous changes
wrought by such inventions in the frame of society — changes
which have proved especially unfavourable to these moun^
tain solitudes. So much had been effected by those new
powers, before the subject of the preceding biographical
sketch closed his life, that their operation could not escape
his notice, and doubtless excited touching reflections upon
the comparatively insignificant results of his own manual
industry. But Robert Walker was not a man of times and
circumstances ; had he lived at a later period, the principle
of duty would have produced application as unremitting;
the same energy of character would have been displayed,
though in many instances with widely-different effects.
Having mentioned in this narrative the vale of Lowes-
water as a place where Mr. Walker taught school, I will
add a few memorandums from its parish register, respecting
a person apparently of desires as moderate, with whom he
must have been intimate during his residence there.
" Let him that would, ascend the tottering seat
Of courtly grandeur, and become as great
As are his mounting wishes ; but for me,
Let sweet repose and rest my portion be.
Henry J'oREST, Curate.
Honour, the idol which the most adore,
Receives no homage from my knee ;
Content in privacy I value more
Than all uneasy dignity.
Henry Forest came to Lowes-water, 1708, being 25 years
" This Curacy was twice augmented by Queen Anne's
bounty. The first payment, with great difficulty, was paid
to Mr. John Curwen of London, on the 9th of May, 1724,
deposited by me, Henry Forest, Curate of Lowes-water.
Y*^ said 9th of May, y^ said Mr. Curwen went to the office
and saw my name registered there, &c. This, by the Pro-
vidence of God, came by lot to this poor place.
Haec testor H. Forest."
In another place he records, that the sycamore trees were
planted in the church -yard in 1710.
He died in 1741, having been curate thirty-four years.
It is not improbable that H. Forest was the gentleman who
assisted Robert Walker in his classical studies at Lowes-
To this parish register is prefixed a motto, of which the
following verses are a part.
" Invigilate viri, tacito nam tempora gressu
DifFugiunt, nulloque sono convertitur annus ;
Utendum est etate, cito pede praeterit aetas."
" We feel that we are greater than we know."
" And feel that I am happier than I know." — Milton.
The allusion to the Greek Poet will be obvious to the
VAUDRACOUR AND JULIA.
The Jbllotving tvas written as an Episode, in a work from
which its length may perhaps exclude it. The facts are
true ; no inverition as to these has been exercised, as none
VAUDRACOUR AND JULIA.
O liappy time of youthful lovers, (thus
My story may begin) O balmy time,
In which a love-knot on a lady's brow
Is fairer than the fairest star in heaven !
To such inheritance of blessed fancy
(Fancy that sports more desperately with minds
Than ever fortune hath been known to do)
The high-born Vaudracour was brought, by years
Whose progress had a little overstepped
His stripling prime. A town of small repute,
Among the vine-clad mountains of Auvergne,
Was the Youth's birth-place. There he woo'd a Maid
Who heard the heart-felt music of his suit
With answering vows. Plebeian was the stock,
72 VAUDRACOUR AND JULIA.
Plebeian, though ingenuous, the stock,
From which her graces and her honours sprung;
And hence the father of the enamoured Youth,
With haughty indignation, spurn'd the thought
Of such alliance. — From their cradles up,
With but a step between their several homes,
Twins had they been in. pleasure; after strife
And petty quarrels, had grown fond again ;
Each other's advocate, each other's stay;
And strangers to content if long apart.
Or more divided than a sportive pair
Of sea-fowl, conscious both that they are hovering
Within the eddy of a common blast.
Or hidden only by the concave depth
Of neighbouring billows from each other's sight.
Thus, not without concurrence of an age
Unknown to memory, was an earnest given,
By ready nature, for a life of love.
For endless constancy and placid truth ;
But whatsoe'er of such rare treasure lay
Reserved, had fate permitted, for support
VAUDRACOUR AND JULIA. 73
Of their maturer years, his present mind
Was under fascination ; — he beheld
A vision, and adored the thing he saw.
Arabian fiction never filled the world
With half the wonders that were wrought for him.
Earth breathed in one great presence of the spring;
Life turn'd the meanest of her implements,
Before his eyes, to price above all gold ;
The house she dwelt in was a sainted shrine ;
Her chamber window did surpass in glory
The portals of the dawn ; all paradise
Could, by the simple opening of a door,
Let itself in upon him ; pathways, walks,
Swarm'd with enchantment, till his spirit sank
Surcharged within him, — overblest to move
Beneath a sun that wakes a weary world
To its dull round of ordinary cares ;
A man too happy for mortality! '
So passed the time, till, whether through effect
Of some unguarded moment that dissolved
Virtuous restraint — ah, speak it, think it not 1
74 VAUDRACOUR AND JULIA.
Deem rather that the fervent Youth, who saw
So many bars between his present state
And the dear haven where he wished to be
In honourable wedlock with his Love,
Was inwardly prepared to turn aside
From law and custom, and entrust his cause
To nature for a happy end of all ;
Deem that by such fond hope the Youth was swayed,
And bear with their transgression, when I add
That Julia, wanting yet the name of wife,
Carried about her for a secret grief
The promise of a mother.
The threatened shame, the parents of the Maid
Found means to hurry her away by night
And unforewarned, that in some distant spot
She might remain shrouded in privacy.
Until the babe was born. When morning came
The Lover, thus bereft, stung with his loss,
And all uncertain whither he should turn,
Chaf 'd like a wild beast in the toils ; but soon
VAUDRACOUR AND JULIA. 75
Discovering traces of the fugitives,
Their steps he followed to the Maid^s retreat.
The sequel may be easily divined, —
Walks to and fro — watchings at every hour ;
And the fair Captive, who, whene'er she may,
Is busy at her casement as the swallow
Fluttering its pinions, almost within reach,
About the pendant nest ; did thus espy
Her Lover ; — thence a stolen interview,
Accomplished under friendly shade of night.
I pass the raptures of the Pair ; — such theme
Is, by innumerable poets, touched
In more delightful verse than skill of mine
Could fashion, chiefly by that darling bard
Who told of Juliet and her Romeo,
And of the lark's note heard before its time,
And of the streaks that laced the severing clouds
In the unrelenting east. — Through all her courts
The vacant City slept ; the busy winds,
That keep no certain intervals of rest,
Mov'd not ; meanwhile the galaxy displayed
76 VAUDRACOUR AND JULIA.
Her fires, that like mysterious pulses beat
Aloft ; — momentous but uneasy bliss !
To their full hearts the universe seemed hung
On that brief meeting's slender filament !
They parted ; and the generous Vaudracour
Reached speedily the native threshold, bent
On making (so the Lovers had agreed)
A sacrifice of birth-right^ to attain
A final portion from his Father's hand ;
Which granted, Bride and Bridegroom then would flee
To some remote and solitary place,
Shady as night and beautiful as heaven,
Where they may live, with no one to behold
Their happiness, or to disturb their love.
But no*m of this no whisper ; not the less,
If ever an obtrusive word were dropped
Touching the matter of his passion, still.
In his stern Father's hearing, Vaudracour
Persisted openly that death alone
Should abrogate his human privilege
Divine, of swearing everlasting truth,
Upon the altar, to the Maid he loved.
VAUDRACOUR AND JULIA. 77
" You shall be baffled in your mad intent ^
If there be justice in the Court of France,"
Muttered the Father. — From this time the Youth
Conceived a terror, — and, by night or day,
Stirred no where without arms. To their rural seatj
Meanwhile, his Parents artfully withdrew
Upon some feigned occasion, and the Son
Remained with one attendant. At midnight
When to his chamber he retired, attempt
Was made to seize him by three armed men.
Acting, in furtherance of the Father's will.
Under a private signet of the State.
One, did the Youth's ungovernable hand
Assault and slay; — and to a second gave
A perilous wound, — he shuddered to behold
The breathless corse ; then peacefully resigned
His person to the law, was lodged in prison.
And wore the fetters of a criminal.
Have you beheld a tuft of winged seed
That, from the dandelion's naked stalk
Mounted aloft, is suffered not to use
78 VAUDRACOUR AND JULIA.
Its natural gifts for purposes of rest,
Driven by the autumnal whirlwind to and fro
Through the wide element ? or have you marked
The heavier substance of a leaf-clad bough,
Within the vortex of a foaming flood.
Tormented ? by such aid you may conceive
The perturbation of each mind ; — ah, no !
Desperate the Maid, — the Youth is stained with blood !
But as the troubled seed and tortured bough
Is man, subjected to despotic sway.
For him, by private influence with the Court,
Was pardon gained, and liberty procured ;
But not without exaction of a pledge
Which liberty and love dispersed in air.
He flew to her from whom they would divide him —
He clove to her who could not give him peace —
Yea, his first word of greeting was, — " All right
Is gone from me ; my lately-towering hopes,
To the least fibre of their lowest root,
Are withered ; — thou no longer canst be mine.
VAUDRACOUR AND JULIA. 79
I thine — the conscience-stricken must not woo
The unruffled Innocent, — I see thy face,
-Behold thee, and my misery is complete !"
" One, are we not?" exclaimed the Maiden — " One,
For innocence and youth, for weal and woe ?"
Then, with the Father's name she coupled words
Of vehement indignation ; but the Youth
Checked her with filial meekness ; for no thought
Uncharitable, no presumptuous rising
Of hasty censure, modelled in the eclipse
Of true domestic loyalty, did e'er
Find place within his bosom. — Once again
The persevering wedge of tyranny
Achieved their separation ; — and once more
Were they united, — to be yet again .
Disparted — pitiable lot ! But here
A portion of the Tale may well be left
In silence, though my memory could add
Much how the Youth, in scanty space of time.
Was traversed from without ; much, too, of thoughts
80 VAUDRACOUR AND JULIA.
That occupied his days in solitude
Under privation and restraint ; and what,
Through dark and shapeless fear of things to come,
And what, through strong compunction for the past,
He suffered ■ — breaking down in heart and mind !
Doomed to a third and last captivity.
His freedom he recovered on the eve
Of Julia's travail. When the babe was born
Its presence tempted him to cherish schemes
Of future happiness. " You shall return,
Julia," said he, " and to your Father's house
Go with the Child. — You have been wretched, yet
The silver shower, whose reckless burthen weighs
Too heavily upon the lily's head,
Oft leaves a saving moisture at its root.
Malice, beholding you,^will melt away.
Go ! — 'tis a Town where both of us were born ;
None will reproach you, for our truth is known ;
And if, amid those once-bright bowers, our fate
Remain unpitied , pity is not in man.
With ornaments — the prettiest, nature yields
VAUDRACOUR AND JULIA. 81
Or art can fashion, shall you deck your Boy,
And feed his countenance with your own sweet looks
Till no one can resist him. — Now, even now,
I see him sporting on the sunny lawn ;
My Father from the window sees him too;
Startled, as if some new-created Thing
Enriched the earth, or Faery of the woods
Bounded before him; — but the unweeting Child
Shall by his beauty win his Grandsire's heart
So that it shall be softened, and our loves
End happily — as they began!" These gleams
Appeared but seldom: oftener was he seen
Propping a pale and melancholy face
Upon the Mother's bosom ; resting thus
His head upon one breast, w^hile from the other
The Babe was drawing in its quiet food.
— That pillow is no longer to be thine,
Fond Youth ! that mournful solace now must pass
Into the list of things that cannot be !
Unwedded Julia, terror-smitten, hears
The sentence, by her Mother's lip pronounced,
82 VAUDRACOUR AND JULIA.
That dooms her tc a Convent. — Who shall tell,
Who dares report, the tidings to the Lord
Of her affections? So they blindly asked
Who knew not to what quiet depths a weight
Of agony had press'd the sufferer down ; —
The word, by others dreaded, he can hear
Composed and silent, without visible sign
Of even the least emotion. Noting this
When the impatient Object of his love
Upbraided him with slackness, he returned
No answer, only took the Mother's hand
And kissed it — seemingly devoid of pain,
Or care, that what so tenderly he pressed,
Was a dependant upon the obdurate heart
Of One who came to disunite their lives
For ever — sad alternative I preferred,
By the unbending Parents of the Maid,
To secret 'spousal s meanly disavowed. —
— So be it !
In the city he remained
A season after Julia had withdrawn
VAUDRACOUR AND JULIA. 83
To those religious walls. He, too, departs —
Who with him? — even the senseless Little-one!
With that sole Charge he pass'd the city-gates
For the last time, attendant by the side
Of a close chair, a litter, or sedan.
In which the Babe was carried. To a hill.
That rose a brief league distant from the town,
The Dwellers in that house where he had lodged
Accompanied his steps, by anxious love
Impell'd : — they parted from him there, and stood
Watching below, till he had disappeared
On the hill-top. His eyes he scarcely took.
Throughout that journey, from the vehicle
(Slow-moving ark of all his hopes !) that veiled
The tender Infant: and at every inn,
And under every hospitable tree
At which the Bearers halted or reposed.
Laid him with timid care upon his knees.
And looked, as mothers ne'er were known to look,
Upon the Nursling which his arms embraced.
— This was the manner in which Vaudracour
84 VAUDRACOUR AND JULIA.
Departed with his Infant; and thus reached
His Father's house, where to the innocent Child
Admittance was denied. The young Man spake
No words of indignation or reproof.
But of his Father begged, a last request,
That a retreat might be assigned to him
Where in forgotten quiet he might dwell.
With such allowance as his wants required;
For wishes he had none. To a Lodge that stood
Deep in a forest, with leave given, at the age
Of four-and-twenty summers he withdrew ;
And thither took with him his infant Babe,
And one Domestic, for their common needs,
An aged Woman. It consoled him here
To attend upon the Orphan, and perform
Obsequious service to the precious Child,
Which, after a short time, by some mistake,
Or indiscretion of the Father, died. —
The Tale I follow to its last recess
Of suffering or of peace, I know not which ;
Theirs be the blame who caused the woe, not mine
VAUDRACOUR AND JULIA. 85
From this time forth he never shared a smile
With mortal creature. An Inhabitant
Of that same Town, in which the Pair had left
So lively a remembrance of their griefs,
By chance of business, coming within reach
Of his retirement, to the spot repaired
With an intent to visit him. He reached
The house, and only found the Matron there,
Who told him that his pains were thrown away,
For that her Master never uttered word
To living Thing — not even to her. — Behold !
While they were speaking, Vaudracour a})proached ;
But, seeing some one near, even as his hand
Was stretched towards the garden gate, he shrunk —
And, like a shadow, glided out of view.
Shocked at his savage aspect, from the place
The Visitor retired.
Thus lived the Youth
Cut off from all intelligence with man,
And shunning even the light of common day;
Nor could the voice of Freedom, which through France
86 VAUDRACOUR AND JULIA.
Full speedily resounded, public hope,
Or personal memory of his own deep wrongs.
Rouse him : but in those solitary shades
His days he wasted, an imbecile mind !
ADDRESSED TO ,
ON THE LONGEST DAY.
Let us quit the leafy Arbour,
And the torrent murmuring by ;
X Sol has dropped into his harbour,
Weary of the open sky.
Evening now unbinds the fetters
Fashioned by the glowing light ;
All that breathe are thankful debtors
To the harbinger of night.
Yet by some grave thoughts attended
Eve renews her calm career ;
For the day that now is ended,
Is the Longest of the Year.
Laura ! sport, as now thou sportesty
On this platform, light and free ;
Take thy bliss, while longest, shortest.
Are indifferent to thee 1
Who would check the happy feeling
That inspires the linnet's song ?
Who would stop the swallow wheeling
On her pinions swift and strong ?
Yet, at this impressive season,
Words, which tenderness can speak
From the truths of homely reason^
Might exalt the loveliest cheek ;
And, while shades to shades succeeding
Steal the landscape from the sight,
I would urge this moral pleading.
Last forerunner of " Good night !"
Summer ebbs ; — each day that follows
Is a reflux jfrom on high,
Tending to the darksome hollows
Where the frosts of winter lie.
He who governs the creation.
In his providence assigned
Such a gradual declination
To the life of human kind.
Yet we mark it not; — fruits redden.
Fresh flowers blow as flowers have blown.
And the heart is loth to deaden
Hopes that she so long hath known.
Be thou wiser, youthful Maiden !
And, when thy decline shall come,
Let not flowers, or boughs fruit-laden.
Hide the knowledge of thy doom.
Now, even now, ere wrapped in slumber,
Fix thine eyes upon the sea
That absorbs time, space, and number,
Look towards Eternity !
Follow thou the flowing River
On whose breast are thither borne
All Deceiv'd, and each Deceiver,
Through the gates of night and morn ;
Through the years' successive portals ;
Through the bounds which many a star
Marks, not mindless of frail mortals
When his light returns from far.
Thus, when Thou with Time hast travelPd
Towards the mighty gulph of things.
And the mazy Stream unravelPd
With thy best imaginings ;
Think, if thou on beauty leanest,
Think how pitiful that stay,
Did not virtue give the meanest
Charms superior to decay.
Duty, like a strict preceptor.
Sometimes frowns, or seems to frown ;
Choose her thistle for thy sceptre.
While thy brow youth's roses crown.
Grasp it, — if thou shrink and tremble,
Fairest Damsel of the green !
Thou wilt lack the only symbol
That proclaims a genuine Queen ;
And ensures those palms of honour
Which selected spirits wear.
Bending low before the Donor,
Lord of Heaven's unchanging Year !
LAMENT OF MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS,
ON THE EVE OF A NEW YEAR.
'^ Smile of the Moon ! — for so I name
That silent greeting from above ;
A gentle flash of light that came
From Her whom drooping Captives love ;
Or art thou of still higher birth ?
Thou that didst part the clouds of earth,
My torpor to reprove !
" Bright boon of pitying Heaven — alas,
I may not trust thy placid cheer !
Pondering that Time to-night will pass
The threshold of another year ;
For years to me are sad and dull ;
My very moments are too full
Of hopelessness and fear.
LAMENT OF MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS. 93
" — And yet, the soul-awakening gleam,
That struck perchance the farthest cone
Of Scotland's rockv wilds, did seem
To visit me, and me alone ;
Me, unapproach'd by any friend,
Save those who to my sorrows lend
Tears due unto their own,
" To-night, the church-tower bells shall ring,
Through these wide realms, a festive peal ;
To the new year a welcoming ;
A tuneful offering for the weal
Of happy millions lulled in sleep ;
While I am forced to watch and weep,
By wounds that may not heal.
'' Born all too high, by wedlock raised
Still higher — to be cast thus low !
Would that mine eyes had never gaz'd
On aught of more ambitious show
Than the sweet flow'rets of the fields !
— It is my royal state that yields
This bitterness of woe.
94 LAMENT OF MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS.
" Yet how ? — for I, if there be truth
In the world's voice, was passing fair ;
And beauty, for confiding youth,
Those shocks of passion can prepare
That kill the bloom before its time,
And blanch, without the Owner's crime,
The most resplendent hair.
" Unblest distinctions ! showered on me
To bind a lingering life in chains ;
All that could quit my grasp, or flee,
Is gone ; — but not the subtle stains
Fixed in the spirit ; — for even here
Can I be proud that jealous f^ar
Of what I was remains.
" A woman rules my prison's key ;
A sister Queen, against the bent
Of law and holiest sympathy.
Detains me — doubtful of the event ;
Great God, who feel'st for my distress.
My thoughts are all that I possess,
O keep them innocent !
LAMENT OF MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS. 95
" Farewell for ever human aid.
Which abject mortals vainly court !
By friends deceived, by foes betrayed.
Of fears the prey, of hopes the sport,
Nought but the world-redeeming Cross
Is able to supply my loss.
My burthen to support.
" Hark ! the death-note of the year.
Sounded by the castle-clock ! " —
From her sunk eyes a stagnant tear
Stole forth, unsettled by the shock ;
But oft the woods renewed their green,
Ere the tir'd head of Scotland's Queen
Repos'd upon the block !
ON HER FIRST ASCENT TO THE SUMMIT OF HELVELLYN.
Inmate of a mountain Dwelling,
Thou hast clomb aloft, and gaz'd.
From the watch-towers of Helvellyn ;
Awed, delighted, and amazed!
Potent was the spell that bound thee
In the moment of dismay,
While blue Ether's arms, flung round thee,
Stiird the pantings of dismay.
Lo ! the dwindled woods and meadows !
What a vast abyss is there !
Lo ! the clouds, the solemn shadows.
And the glistenings — heavenly fair !
TO ^ 97
And a record of commotion
Which a thousand ridges yield ;
Ridge, and gulph, and distant ocean
Gleaming like a silver shield !
— Take thy flight; — possess, inherit
Alps or Andes — they are thine !
With the morning's roseate spirit,
Sweep their length of snowy line ;
Or survey the bright dominions
In the gorgeous colours drest,
Flung from off the purple pinions,
Evening spreads throughout the west !
Thine are all the choral fountains
Warbling in each sparry vault
Of the untrodden lunar mountains ;
Listen to their songs ! — or halt,
To Niphate*s top invited,
Whither spiteful Satan steer'd ;
Or descend where the ark alighted
When the green earth re-appeared^
For the power of hills is on thee,
As was witnessed through thine eye
Then, when old Helvellyn won thee
To confess their majesty 1
An age hath been when Earth was proud
Of lustre too intense
To be sustained ; and Mortals bowed
The front in self-defence.
Who tlien^ if Dian's crescent gleamed^
Or Cupid's sparkling arrow streamed
While on the wing the Urchin play'd,
Ck)uld fearlessly approach the shade ?
— Enough for one soft vernal day,
If I, a Bard of ebbing time
And nurtured in a fickle clime,
May haunt this horned bay ;
Whose amorous water multiplies
The flitting halcyon's vivid dyes ;
And smoothes its liquid breast — to show
These swan-lik^ specks of mountain snow,
iOO TO LYCORIS.
White, as the pair that sHd along the plains
Of Heaven, when Venus held the reins !
In youth we love the darksome lawn
Brush'd by the owlef s wing ;
Then, Twilight is preferred to Dawn,
And Autumn to the Spring.
Sad fancies do we then affect.
In luxury of disrespect
To our own prodigal excess
Of too familiar happiness.
Lycoris (if such name befit
Thee, thee my life's celestial sign !)
When Nature marks the year's decline
Be ours to welcome it ;
Pleased with the soil's requited cares ;
Pleased with the blue that ether wears ;
Pleased while the Sylvan world displays
Its ripeness to the feeding gaze ;
Pleased when the sullen winds resound the knell
Of the resplendent miracle.
TO LYCORIS. 101
But something whispers to my heart
That, as we downward tend,
Lycoris ! life requires an art
To which our souls must bend ;
A skill — to balance and supply ;
And, ere the flowing fount be dry,
As soon it must, a sense to sip.
Or drink, with no fastidious lip.
Frank greeting, then, to that blithe Guest
Diffusing smiles o'er land and sea,
To aid the vernal Deity
Whose home is in the breast !
May pensive Autumn ne'er present
A claim to her disparagement !
While blossoms and the budding spray
Inspire us in our own decay ;
Still, as we nearer draw to life's dark goal,
Be hopefiil Spring the favourite of the Soul !
TO THE SAME.
Enough of climbing toil ! — Ambition treads
Here, as in busier scenes, ground steep and rough.
Oft perilous, always tiresome ; and each step,
As we for most uncertain gain ascend
Toward the clouds, dwarfing the world below,
Induces, for its old familiar sights.
Unacceptable feelings of contempt,
With wonder mixed — that Man could e'er be tied.
In anxious bondage, to such nice array
And formal fellowship of petty things !
Oh, 'tis the heart that magnifies this life.
Making a truth and beauty of her own !
And moss-grown alleys, circumscribing shades.
And gurgling rills, assist her in the work
More efficaciously than realms outspread,
As in a map, before the adventurer's gaze.
TO THE SAME. 103
Ocean and earth contending for regard !
Lo ! there a dim Egerian grotto fringed
With ivy-twine, profusely from its brows
Dependant, — enter without further aim ;
And let me see thee sink into a mood
Of quiet thought — protracted till thine eye
Be calm as water when the winds are gone
And no one can tell whither. Dearest Friend !
We two have known such happy hours together
That, were power granted to replace them (fetched
From out the pensive shadows where they lie)
In the first warmth of their original sunshine,
Loth should I be to use it ; passing sweet
Are the domains of tender memory !
SUGGESTED BY A BEAUTIFUL RUIN UPON ONE OF THE
ISLANDS OF LOCH LOMOND, A PLACE CHOSEN FOR
THE RETREAT OF A SOLITARY INDIVIDUAL, FROM
WHOM THIS HABITATION ACQUIRED THE NAME OF
fHE BROWNIE'S CELL.
To barren heath, and quaking fen.
Or depth of labyrinthine glen ;
Or into trackless forest set
With trees, whose lofty umbrage met ;
World-wearied Men withdrew of yore, —
(Penance their trust, and Prayer their store;]
And in the wilderness were bound
To such apartments as they found ;
Or with a new ambition raised ;
That God might suitably be praised.
THE BROWNIE'S CELL. 105
High lodged the Warrior, like a bird of prey ;
Or where broad waters round him lay:
But this wild Ruin is no ghost
Of his devices — buried, lost !
Within this little lonely Isle
There stood a consecrated Pile ;
Where tapers burn'd, and mass was sung,
For them whose timid spirits clung
To mortal succour, though the tomb
Had fixed, for ever fixed, their doom]!
Upon those servants of another world
When madding Power her bolts had hurled,
Their habitation shook ; — it fell,
And perish'd — save one narrow Cell ;
Whither, at length, a Wretch retired
Who neither grovelPd nor aspir'd :
He, struggling in the net of pride,
The future scorned, the past defied ;
Still tempering, from the unguilty forge
Of vain conceit, an iron scourge !
106 THE BROWNIE'S CELL.
Proud Remnant was he of a fearless Race,
Who stood and flourished face to face
With their perennial hills ; — but Crime
Hastening the stern decrees of Time,
Brought low a Power, which from its home
Burst, when repose grew wearisome ;
And, taking impulse from the sword.
And mocking its own plighted word.
Had found, in ravage widely dealt,
Its warfare's bourn, its travel's belt !
All, all were dispossessed, save Him whose smile
Shot lightning through this lonely Isle !
No right had he but what he made
To this small spot, his leafy shade ;
But the ground lay within that ring
To which he only dared to cling ;
Renouncing here, as worse than dead,
The craven few who bowed the head
Beneath the change, who heard a claim
How loud ! yet liv'd in peace with shame.
THE BROWNIE'S CELL. 107
From year to year this shaggy Mortal went
(So seem'd it) down a strange descent:
Till they, who saw his outward frame,
Fix'd on him an unhallowed name ;
Him — free from all malicious taint.
And guiding, like the Patmos Saint,
A pen unwearied — to indite.
In his lone Isle, the dreams of night ;
Impassioned dreams, that strove to span
The faded glories of his Clan !
Suns that through blood their western harbour sought,
And stars that in their courses fought, —
Towers rent, winds combating with woods —
Lands delug'd by unbridled floods, —
And beast and bird that from the spell
Of sleep took import terrible, —
These types mysterious (if the show
Of battle and the routed foe
Had failed) would furnish an array
Of matter for the dawning day !
108 THE BROWNIE'S CELL.
How disappeared He ? — ask the Newt and Toad,
Inheritors of his abode ;
The Otter crouching undisturbed,
In her dank cleft ; — but be thou curbed
O froward Fancy ! mid a scene
Of aspect winning and serene ;
For those offensive creatures shun
The inquisition of the sun !
And in this region flowers delight.
And all is lovely to the sight.
Spring finds not here a melancholy breast,
When she applies her annual test
To dead and living ; when her breath
Quickens, as now, the withered heath ; —
Nor flaunting Summer — when he throws
His soul into the briar-rose ;
Or calls the lily from her sleep
Prolonged beneath the bordering deep;
Nor Autumn, when the viewless wren
Is warbling near the Brownie's Den.
THE BROWNIE'S CELL. 109
Wild Relique ! beauteous as the chosen spot
In Nysa's isle, the embellish'd Grot ;
Whither, by care of Lybian Jove,
(High Servant of paternal Love)
Young Bacchus was conveyed — to lie
Safe from his step-dame Rhea's eye ;
Where bud, and bloom, and fruitage, glowed,
Close-crowding round the Infant God ;
All colours, and the liveliest streak
A foil to his celestial cheek !
COMPOSED AT CORA LINN,
IN SIGHT OF Wallace's tower.
" — How Wallace fought for Scotland, left the name
Of Wallace to be found, like a wild flower,
All over his dear Country; left^the deeds
Of Wallace, like a family of ghosts,
To people the steep rocks and river banks
Her natural sanctuaries, with a local soul
Of independence and stern liberty." MS,
Lord of the Vale ! astounding Flood !
The dullest leaf, in this thick wood,
Quakes — conscious of thy power ;
The caves reply with hollow moan ;
And vibrates, to its central stone.
Yon time-cemented Tower !
And yet how fair the rural scene !
For thou, O Clyde, hast ever been
Beneficent as strong ;
Pleased in refreshing dews to steep
The little trembling flowers that peep
Thy shelving rocks among.
COMPOSED AT CORA LINN. Ill
Hence all who love their country, love
To look on thee — delight to rove
Where they thy voice can hear ;
And, to the patriot-warrior's Shade,
Lord of the vale ! to Heroes laid
In dust, that voice is dear !
Along thy banks, at dead of night, ,
Sweeps visibly the Wallace Wight ;
Or stands, in warlike vest.
Aloft, beneath the moon's pale beam,
A Champion worthy of the Stream,
Yon grey tower's living crest !
But clouds and envious darkness hide
A Form not doubtfully descried : —
Their transient mission o'er,
O say to what blind region flee
These Shapes of awful phantasy ?
To what untrodden shore ?
112 COMPOSED AT CORA LINN.
Less than divine command they spurn ;
But this we from the mountains learn,
And this the valleys show,
That never will they deign to hold
Communion where the heart is cold
To human weal and woe.
The man of abject soul in vain
Shall walk the Marathonian Plain ;
Or thrid the shadowy gloom,
That still invests the guardian Pass,
Where stood sublime Leonidas,
Devoted to the tomb.
Nor deem that it can aught avail
For such to glide with oar or sail
Beneath the piny wood.
Where Tell once drew, by Uri's lake.
His vengeful shafts — prepared to slake
Their thirst in Tyrants' blood !
TO THE REV. DR. W .
(with the sonnets to the river duddon, and other
poems in this collection.)
The Minstrels played their Christmas tune
To-night beneath my cottage eaves ;
While, smitten by a lofty moon.
The' encircling Laurels, thick with leaves,
Gave back a rich and dazzling sheen,
That overpowered their natural green*
Through hill and valley every breezie
Had sunk to rest with folded wings ;
Keen was the air, but could not freeze
Nor check the music of the strings ;
So stout and hardy were the band
That scrap'd the chords with strenuous hand.
114 TO THE REV. DR. W-
And who but listen'd ? — till was paid
Respect to every Inmate's claim ;
The greeting given, the music played
In honour of each household name,
Duly pronounc'd with lusty call.
And " merry Christmas" wish'd to all 1
O Brother ! I revere the choice
That took thee from thy native hills ;
And it is given thee to rejoice :
Though public care full often tills
(Heaven only witness of the toil)
A barren and ungrateful soil.
Yet, would that Thou, with me and mine,
Hadst heard this never-failing rite ;
And seen on other faces shine
A true revival of the light ;
Which Nature, and these rustic Fowlers,
In simple childhood, spread through ours !
TO THE REV. DR. W . 115
For pleasure hath not ceased to wait
On these expected annual rounds.
Whether the rich man's sumptuous gate
Call forth the unelaborate sounds,
Or they are offered at the door
That guards the lowliest of the poor.
How touching, when, at midnight, sweep
Snow-muffled winds, and all is dark, * .
To hear — and sink again to sleep !
Or, at an earlier call, to mark,
By blazing fire, the still suspense
Of self-complacent innocence ;
The mutual nod, — the grave disguise
Of hearts with gladness brimming o'er ;
And some unbidden tears that rise
For names once heard, and heard no more;
Tears brighten'd by the serenade
For infant in the cradle laid !
116 TO THE REV. DR. W-
Ah ! not for emerald fields alone.
With ambient streams more pure and bright
Than fabled Cytherea's zone
Glittering before the Thunderer's sight,
Is to my heart of hearts endeared,
The ground where we were born and rear'd 1
Hail, ancient Manners ! sure defence.
Where they survive, of wholesome laws ;
Remnants of love whose modest sense
Thus into narrow room withdraws ;
Hail, Usages of pristine mould,
And ye, that guard them, Mountains old !
Bear with me. Brother ! quench the thought
That slights this passion, or condemns ;
If thee fond Fancy ever brought
From the proud margin of the Thames,
And Lambeth's venerable towers.
To humbler streams, and greener bowers.
TO THE REV. DR. W . 117
Yes, they can make, who fail to find,
Short leisure even in busiest days ;
Moments — to cast a look behind,
And profit by those kindly rays
That through the clouds do sometimes steal.
And all the far-off past reveal.
Hence, while the imperial City's din
Beats frequent on thy satiate ear,
A pleas'd attention I may win
To agitations less severe.
That neither overwhelm nor cloy.
But fill the hollow vale with joy !
The fields which with covetous spirit we sold.
Those beautiful fields, the delight of our day,
Would have brought us more good than a burthen of
Could we but have been as contented as they.
When the troublesome Tempter beset us, said I,
" Let him come, with his purse proudly grasp'd in his
But, Allan, be true to me, Allan, — we'll die
Before he shall go with an inch of the land !"
There dwelt we, as happy as birds in their bowers ;
Unfettered as bees that in gardens abide ;
We could do what we chose with the land, it was ours ;
And for us the brook murmur'd that ran bv its side.
But now we are strangers, go early or late ;
And often, like one overburthen'd with sin,
With my hand on the latch of the half-open'd gate,
I look at the fields — and I cannot go in !
When I walk by the hedge on a bright summer's day,
Or sit in the shade of my grandfather's tree,
A stern face it puts on, as if ready to say,
" What ails you, that you must come creeping to me !"
With our pastures about us, we could not be sad ;
Our comfort was near if we ever were cross'd ;
But the blessings, and comfort, and wealth that we had.
We slighted them all, — and our birth-right was lost.
Oh, ill-judging sire of an innocent son.
Who must now be a wanderer ! — but peace to that
Think of evening's repose when our labour was done,
The Sabbath's return — and its leisure's soft chain !
And in sickness, if night had been sparing of sleep.
How cheer fill, at sunrise, the hill where I stood.
Looking down on the kine, and our treasure of sheep
That besprinkled the field — 'twas like youth in my
Now I cleave to the house, and am dull as a snail ;
And, oftentimes, hear the church-bell with a sigh.
That follows the thought — We've no land in the vale,
Save six feet of earth where our forefathers lie !
SONG FOR THE SPINNING WHEEL.
FOUNDED UPON A BELIEF PREVALENT AMONG THE PAS-
TORAL VALES OF WESTMORLAND.
Swiftly turn the murmuring wheel !
Night has brought the welcome hour,
When the weary fingers feel
Help, as if from fairy power ;
Dewy night o'ershades the ground ;
Turn the swift wheel round and round !
Now, beneath the starry sky,
Rest the widely-scatter*d sheep ; —
Ply, the pleasant labour, ply ! —
For the spindle, while they sleep,
With a motion smooth and fine
Gathers up a trustier line.
1^2 SONG FOR THE SPINNING WHEEL.
Short-liv'd likings may be bred
By a glance from fickle eyes ;
But true love is like the thread
Which the kindly wool supplies,
When the flocks are all at rest,
Sleeping on the mountain's breast.
HINT FROM THE MOUNTAINS
FOR CERTAIN POLITICAL ASPIRANTS.
Stranger, 'tis a sight of pleasure
When the wings of genius rise,
Their ability to measure
With great enterprise;
But in man was ne'er such darinor
As yon Hawk exhibits, pairing
His brave spirit with the war in
The stormy skies I
Mark him, how his power he uses,
Lays it by, at will resumes !
Mark, ere for his haunt he chooses
Clouds and utter glooms !
There, he wheels in downward mazes ;
Sunward now his flight he raises.
Catches fire, as seems, and blazes
With uninjur'd plumes ! —
124 HINT FROM THE MOUNTAINS.
Traveller, 'tis no act of courage
Which aloft thou dost discern ;
No bold bird gone forth to forage
Mid the tempest stern ;
But such mockery as the Nations
See, when Commonwealth- vexations
Lift men from their native stations.
Like yon tuft of fern ;
Such it is, and not a Haggard
Soaring on undaunted wing;
'Tis by nature dull and laggard,
A poor helpless Thing,
Dry, and withered, light and yellow ; —
That to be the tempest's fellow !
Wait — and you shall see how hollow
Its endeavouring !
"(see PLUTARCH )
x AIR is the Swan, whose majesty, prevaiHng
O^er breezeless water, on Locarno's lake,
Bears him on while proudly sailing
He leaves behind a moon-illumined wake :
Behold ! the mantling spirit of reserve
Fashions his neck into a goodly curve ;
An arch thrown back between luxuriant wings
Of whitest garniture, like fir-tree boughs
To which, on some unruffl'd morning, clings
A flaky weight of winter's purest snows !
— Behold ! — as with a gushing impulse heaves
That downy prow, and softly cleaves
The mirror of the crystal flood.
Vanish inverted hill, and shadowy wood.
And pendant rocks, where'er, in gliding state,
Winds the mute Creature without visible Mate
Or rival, save the Queen of night
Showering down a silver light,
From heaven, upon her chosen favourite I
So pure, so bright, so fitted to embrace,
Where'er he turn'd, a natural grace
Of haughtiness without pretence,
And to unfold a stiU magnificence,
Was princely Dion, in the power
And beauty of his happier hour.
Nor less the homage that was seen to wait
On Dion's virtues, when the lunar beam
Of Plato's genius, from its lofty sphere,
Fell round him in the grove of Academe,
Softening their inbred dignity austere ; —
That he, not too elate
With self-sufficing solitude.
But with majestic lowliness endued,
Might in the universal bosom reign,
And from affectionate observance gain.
Help, under every change of adverse fate.
Five thousand warriors — O the rapturous day !
Each crown'd with flowers, and arm'd with spear and
Or ruder weapon which their course might yield,
To Syracuse advance in bright array.
Who leads them on ? — The anxious People see
Long-exil'd Dion marching at their head,
He also crown'd with flowers of Sicily,
And in a white, far-beaming, corslet clad !
Pure transport undisturbed by doubt or fear
The Gazers feel ; and, rushing to the plain.
Salute those Strangers as a holy train
Or blest procession (to the Immortals dear)
That brought their precious liberty again.
Lo ! when the gates are entered, on each hand,
Down the long street, rich goblets filFd with wine
In seemly order stand.
On tables set, as if for rites divine ; — -
And, wheresoe'er the great Deliverer pass'd^
Fruits were strewn before his eye, '
And flowers upon his person cast
In boundless prodigality;
Nor did the general voice abstain from prayer^
Invoking Dion's tutelary care,
As if a very Deity he were !
Mourn, hills and groves of Attica ! and mourn
Illyssus, bending o'er thy classic urn !
Mourn, and lament for him whose spirit dreads
Your once-sweet memory, studious walks and shades 1
For him who to divinity aspir'd.
Hot on the breath of popular applause,
But through dependance on the sacred laws
Framed in the schools where Wisdom dwelt retir'd,
Intent to trace the ideal path of right
(More fair than heaven's broad causeway pav'd with stars)
Which Dion learn'd to measure with deh'ght ;
But he hath overleap'd the eternal bars ;
And, following guides whose craft holds no consent
With aught that breathes the ethereal element,
Hath stained the robes of civil power with blood.
Unjustly shed, though for the public good.
Whence doubts that came too late, and wishes vain,
Hollow excuses — and triumphant pain ;
And oft his cogitations sink as low
As, through the abysses of a joyless heart,
The heaviest plummet of despair can go —
But whence that sudden check ? — that fearful start !
He hears an uncouth sound —
Anon his lifted eyes
Saw at a long-drawn gallery's dusky bound,
A Shape, of more than mortal size
And hideous aspect, stalking round and round !
A woman's garb the Phantom wore.
And fiercely swept the marble floor, —
Like Auster whirling to and fro,
His force on Caspian foam to try ;
Or Boreas when he scours the snow
That skins the plains of Thessaly,
Or when aloft on Maenalus he stops
His flight, mid eddying pine-tree tops I
So, but from toil less sign of profit reaping.
The sullen Spectre to her purpose bowed,
Sweeping — vehemently sweeping —
No pause admitted — no design avowed !
" Avaunt, inexplicable Guest ! — avaunt
Intrusive Presence ! — Let me rather see
The coronal that coiling vipers make;
The torch that flames with many a lurid flake.
And the long train of doleful pageantry
Which they behold, whom vengeful Furies haunt,
Who, while they struggle from the scourge to flee,
Move where the blasted soil is not unworn.
And, in their anguish, bear what other minds have borne I
But Shapes that come not at an earthly call,
Will not depart when mortal voices bid ;
Lords of the visionary Eye whose lid,
Once raised, remains aghast and will not fall !
Ye Gods, thought He, that servile Implement
Obeys a mystical intent !
Your Minister would brush away
The spots that to my soul adhere ;
But should she labour night and day.
They wiU not, cannot disappear. —
Whence angry perturbations, — and that look
Which no Philosophy can brook !
Ill-fated Chief ! there are whose hopes are built
Upon the ruins of thy glorious name ;
Who, through the portal of one moment's guilt,
Pursue thee with their deadly aim !
O matchless perfidy ! portentous lust
Of monstrous crime ! — that horror-striking blade,
Drawn in defiance of the Gods, hath laid
The noble Syracusan low in dust !
Shudder the walls — the marble city wept —
And sylvan places heaved a pensive sigh ;
But in calm peace the appointed Victim slept.
As he had fallen in magnanimity :
Of spirit too capacious to require
That Destiny her course should change ; too just
To his own native greatness to desire
That wretched boon, days lengthened by mistrust.
So were the hopeless troubles, that involved
The soul of Dion, instantly dissolved.
Released firom life and cares of princely state.
He left this moral grafted on his Fate,
" Him only pleasure leads, and peace attends ;
Him, only him, the shield of Jove defends.
Whose means are fair and spotless as his ends."
THE PILGRIM'S DREAM,
OR, THE STAR AND THE GLOW-WORM.
A Pilgrim, when the summer day
Had closed upon his weary way,
A lodging begg'd beneath a castle's roof ;
But him the haughty Warder spurn'd ;
And from the gate the Pilgrim turn'd.
To seek such covert as the field
Or heath-besprinkled copse might yield.
Or lofty wood, shower-proof.
He paced along ; and, pensively
Halting beneath a shady tree.
Whose moss-grown root might serve for couch or seat,
134- THE PILGRIM'S DREAM.
Fixed on a Star his upward eye ;
Then, from the tenant of the sky
He turned, and watch'd with kindred look,
A glow-worm, in a dusky nook.
Apparent at his feet.
The murmur of a neighbouring stream
Induced a soft and slumbVous dream,
A pregnant dream within whose shadowy bounds
He recognised the earth-born Star,'
And That whose radiance gleam'd from far ;
And (strange to witness !) from the frame
Of the ethereal Orb there came
Much did it taunt the humbler Light
That now, when day was fled, and night
Hushed the dark earth — fast closing weary eyes,
A very Reptile could presume
To show her taper in tlie gloom,
THE PILGRIM'S DREAM. 135
As if in rivalship with One
Who sate a Ruler on his throne
Erected in the skies.
<' Exalted Star !" the Worm replied,
^^ Abate this unbecoming pride,
Or with a less uneasy lustre shine ;
Thou shrink'st as momently thy rays
Are mastered by the breathing haze ;
While neither mist, nor thickest cloud
That shapes in heaven its murky shroud,
Hath power to injure mine.
Yet not for this do I aspire
To match the spark of local fire,
That at my will burns on the dewy lawn,
With thy acknowledged glories ; — No !
But it behoves that thou shouldst know
WHiat favours do attend me here.
Till, like thyself, I disappear
Before the purple dawn."
136 THE PILGRIM'S DREAM.
When this in modest guise was said,
Across the welkin seem'd to spread
A boding sound — for aught but sleep unfit !
Hills quaked — the rivers backward ran —
That Star, so proud of late, looked wan;
And reeled with visionary stir
In the blue depth, like Lucifer
Cast headlong to the pit !
Fire raged, — and when the spangled floor
Of ancient ether was no more,
New heavens succeeded, by the dream brought forth :
And all the happy souls that rode
Transfigured through that fresh abode.
Had heretofore, in humble trust.
Shone meekly mid their native dust,
The Glow-worms of the earth !
This knowledge, from an AngeFs voice
Proceeding, made the heart rejoice
Of Him who slept upon the open lea :
THE PILGRIM'S DREAM. 137
Waking at morn he murmur'd not;
And, till life's journey closed, the spot
Was to the Pilgrim's soul endeared,
Where by that dream he had been cheered
Beneath the shady tree.
ARTEGAL AND ELIDURE.
(see the chronicle of GEOFFRY of MONMOUTH, AND
Milton's history of England.)
Where be the Temples which, in Britain's Isle,
For his paternal Gods, the Trojan raised ?
Gone like a morning dream, or like a pile
Of clouds — that in cerulean ether blazed !
Ere Julius landed on her white-clifF'd shore,
They sank, delivered o'er
To fatal dissolution ; and, I ween.
No vestige then was left that such had ever been.
ARTEGAL AND ELIDURE, 139
"Nathless, a British record (long concealed
In old Armorica, whose secret springs
No Gothic conqueror ever drank) revealed
The wond'roiis current of forgotten things ;
How Brutus came, by oracles impell'dj
An Albion's giants quell'd, —
A brood whom no civility could melt,
Who never tasted grace, and goodness ne'er had felt."
By brave Corineus aided, he subdued
And rooted out the intolerable kind ; x
And this too-long-polluted land imbued
With goodly arts and usages refined ;
Whence golden harvests, cities, warlike towers,
And Pleasure's sumptuous bowers ;
Whence all the fix'd delights of house and home,
Friendships thatwill not break, and love that cannot roam.
140 ARTEGAL AND ELIDURE.
O, happy Britain ! region all too fair
For self-delighting fancy to endure
That silence only should inhabit there,
Wild beasts, or uncouth savages impure !
But, intermingled with the generous seed,
Grew many a poisonous weed ;
Thus fares it still with all that takes its birth
From human care, or grows upon the breast of earth.
Hence, and how soon ! that war of vengeance wag'd
By Guendolen against her faithless lord ;
Till she, in jealous fiiry unassuag'd.
Had slain his Paramour with ruthless sword :
Then, into Severn hideously defiled.
She flung her blameless child,
Sabrina, — vowing that the stream should bear ,
That name through every age, her hatred to declare.
ARTEGAL AND ELIDURE. 14.1
So speaks the Chronicle, and tells of Lear
By his ungrateful daughters turn'd adrift.
Ye lightnings, hear his voice ! — they cannot hear
Nor can the winds restore his simple gift.
But one there is. a child of nature meek,
Who comes her sire to seek ;
And he, recovering sense, upon her breast
Leans smilingly, and sinks into a perfect rest.
There too we read of Spenser's fairy themes.
And those that Milton lov'd in youthful years ;
The sage enchanter Merlin's subtle schemes ;
The feats of Arthur and his knightly peers ;
Of Arthur, — who, to upper light restored
With that terrific sword
Which yet he wields in subterranean war,
Shall lift his country's fame above the polar star !
142 ARTEGAL AND ELIDURE.
What wonder, then, if in such ample field
Of old tradition, one particular flower
Doth seemingly in vain its fragrance yield,
And bloom unnoticed even to this late hour.
Now, gentle Muses, your assistance grant,
While I this flower transplant
Into a garden stor'd with Poesy ;
Where flowers and herbs unite, and haply some weeds be.
That, wanting not wild grace, are from all mischief free !
ARTEGAL AND ELIDURE. 143
A King more worthy of respect and love
Than wise Gorbonian, ruled not in his day ;
And grateful Britain prospered far above
All neighbouring countries through his righteous sway;
He poured rewards and honours on the good ;
The Oppressor he withstood ;
And, while he served the gods with reverence due,
Fields smiled, and temples rose, and towns and cities grew.
He died, whom Artegal succeeds — his son ;
But how unworthy of such sire was he !
A hopeful reign, auspiciously begun,
Was darkened soon by foul iniquity.
From crime to crime he mounted, till at length
The nobles leagued their strength
With a vexed people, and the tyrant chased ;
And, on the vacant throne, his worthier brother placed.
IH ARTEGAL AND ELIDURE.
From realm to realm the humbled Exile went,
Suppliant for aid his kingdom to regain ;
In many a court, and many a warrior's tent,
He urged his persevering suit in vain.
Him, in whose wretched heart ambition failed,
Dire poverty assailed ;
And, tired with slights which he no more could brook,
Towards his native soil he cast a longing look.
Fair blew the wish'd-for wind — the voyage sped ;
He landed ; and, by many dangers scared,
" Poorly provided, poorly followed,"
To Calaterium's forest he repaired.
How changed from him who, born to highest place,
Had swayed the royal mace,
Flattered and feared, despised yet deified.
In Troynovant, his seat by silver Thames's side !
ARTEGAL AND ELIDURE. 145
From that wild region where the crownless king
Lay in concealment with his scanty train,
Supporting life by water from the spring,
And such chance food as outlaws can obtain,
Unto the few whom he esteems his friends
A messenger he sends ;
And from their secret loyalty requires
Shelter and daily bread, — the amount of his desires.
While he the issue waits, at early morn
Wandering by stealth abroad, he chanced to hear
A startling outcry made by hound and horn,
From which the tusky boar hath fled in fear ;
And, scouring tow'rds him o'er the grassy plain,
Behold the hunter train !
He bids his little company advance
With seeming unconcern and steady countenance.
146 ARTEGAL AND ELIDURE.
The royal Elidure, who leads the chaccy
Hath checked his foaming courser — Can it be !
Methinks that I should recognise that face,
Though much disguised by long adversity !
He gazed, rejoicing, and again he gazed,
Confounded and amazed —
" It is the king, my brother !" and, by sound
Of his own voice confirmed, he leaps upon the ground.
Long, strict, and tender, was the embrace he gave,
Feebly returned by daunted Artegal;
Whose natural affection doubts enslave,
And apprehensions dark and criminal.
Loth to restrain the moving interview,
The attendant lords withdrew ;
And, while they stood upon the plain apart,
Thus Elidure, by words, reUeved his struggling heart.
ARTEGAL AND ELIDURE. 147
By heavenly Powers conducted, we have met ;
— O Brother ! to my knowledge lost so long,
But neither lost to love, nor to regret,
Nor to my wishes lost, forgive the wrong,
(Such it may seem) if I thy crown have borne.
Thy royal mantle worn :
I was their natural guardian ; and 'tis just
That now I should restore what hath been held in trust'
Awhile the astonish'd Artegal stood mute.
Then thus exclaimed — " To me of titles shorn
And stripped of power ! me, feeble, destitute,
To me a kingdom ! — spare the bitter scorn !
If justice ruled the breast of foreign kings
Then, on the wide-spread wings
Of war, had I returned to claim my right ;
This will I here avow, not dreading thy despite."
148 ARTEGAL AND ELIDURE.
" I do not blame thee," Elidiire replied,
" But, if my looks did with my words agree,
I should at once be trusted, not defied,
And thou from all disquietude be free.
May spotless Dian, Goddess of the chace,
Who to this blessed place
At this blest moment led me, if I speak
With insincere intent, on me her vengeance wreak !
Were this^ same spear, which in my hand I grasp.
The British sceptre, here would I to thee
The sjrmbol yield ; and would undo this clasp,
If it confined the robe of sovereignty.
Odious to me the pomp of regal court,
And joyless sylvan sport.
While thou art roving wretched and forlorn,
Thy couch the dewy earth, thy roof the forest thorn !"
ARTEGAL AND ELIDURE. 149
Then Artegal thus spake — "I only sought,
Within this realm a place of safe retreat;
Beware of rousing an ambitious thought ;
Beware of kindling hopes, for me unmeet !
Thou art reputed wise, but in my mind
Art pitiably blind ;
Full soon this generous purpose thou may's t rue.
When that which has been done no wishes can undo.
Who, when a crown is fixed upon his head.
Would balance claim with claim, and right with right ?
But thou — I know not how inspired, how led —
Wouldst change the course of things in all men's sight •
And this for one who cannot imitate
Thy virtue, who may hate :
For, if by such strange sacrifice restored,
He reign, thou still must be his king, and sovereign lord.
150 ARTEGAL AND ELIDURE.
Lifted in magnanimity above
Aught that my feeble nature could perform,
Or even conceive ; surpassing me in love
Far as in power the eagle doth the worm ;
I, Brother ! only should be king in name,
And govern to my shame ;
A shadow in a hated land while all
Of glad or willing service to thy share would fall."
« Believe it not," said Elidure; "respect
Awaits on virtuous life, and ever most
Attends on goodness with dominion decked,
Which stands the universal empire's boast;
This can thy own experience testify :
Nor shall thy foes deny
That, in the gracious opening of thy reign.
Our Father's spirit seemed in thee to breathe again.
ARTEGAL AND ELIDURE, 151
And what if o'er that bright unbosoming
Clouds of disgrace and envious fortune past !
Have we not seen the glories of the spring
By veil of noontide darkness overcast ?
The frith that glittered like a warrior's shield,
The sky, the gay green field,
Are vanished ; — gladness ceases in the groves.
And trepidation strikes the blackened mountain coves.
But is that gloom dissolved ? how passing clear
Seems the wide world — far brighter than before !
Even so thy latent worth will re-appear.
Gladdening the people's heart from shore to shore,
For youthful faults ripe virtues shall atone ;
Re-seated on thy throne,
Proof shalt thou furnish that misfortune, pain.
And sorrow, have confirmed thy native right to reign.
152 ARTEGAL AND ELIDURE.
But, not to overlook what thou may'st know,
Thy enemies are neither weak nor few,
And circumspect must be our course and slow,
Or from my purpose ruin may ensue.
Dismiss thy followers ; — let them calmly wait
Such change in thy estate
As I already have in thought devised ;
And which, with caution due, may soon be realised.*
The Story tells what courses were pursued.
Until King Elidure, with full consent
Of all his Peers, before the multitude,
Rose, — and, to consummate this just intent.
Did place upon his Brother's head the Crown
Relinquished by his own ;
Then to his people cried, " Receive your Lord
Gorbonian's first-born Son, your rightful King restored !"
ARTEGAL AND ELIDURE. 153
The People answer'd with a loud acclaim :
Yet more ; — heart-smitten by the heroic deed,
The reinstated Artegal became
Earth's noblest penitent ; from bondage freed
Of vice, — of vice unable to subvert
Or shake his high desert.
Long did he reign ; and, when he died, the tear
Of universal grief bedewed his honoured bier.
Thus was a Brother by a Brother saved ;
With whom a Crown (temptation that hath set
Discord in hearts of men till they have braved
Their nearest kin with deadly purpose met)
'Gainst duty weighed and faithful love, did seem
A thing of no esteem ;
And, from this triumph of affection pure.
He bore the lasting name of " pious Elidure !"
A FACT, AND AN IMAGINATION;
CANUTE AND ALFRED.
The Danish Conqueror, on his royal chair
Mustering a face of haughtiest sovereignty,
To aid a covert purpose, cried — " O ye
Approaching waters of the deep, that share
With this green isle my fortunes, come not where
Your Master's throne is set !" — Absurd decree !
A mandate, uttered to the foaming sea.
Is to its motions less than wanton air.
— Then Canute, rising from the invaded Throne,
Said to his servile courtiers, " Poor the reach.
The undisguised extent, of mortal sway !
He only is a king, and he alone
Deserves the name, (this truth the billows preach)
Whose everlasting laws, sea, earth, and heaven obey.'
A FACT, AND AN IMAGINATION. 155
This just reproof the prosperous Dane
Drew, from the impulse of the Main,
For some whose rugged northern mouths would strain
At oriental flattery ;
And Canute (truth more worthy to be known)
From that time forth did for his brows disown
The ostentatious symbol of a Crown ;
Esteeming earthly royalty*
Contemptible and vain.
Now hear what one of elder days,
Rich theme of England's fondest praise, ,
Her darling Alfred, might have spoken ;
To cheer the remnant of his host
When he w^s driven from coast to coast.
Distressed and harassed, but with mind unbroken ;
*^ My faithful Followers, lo ! the tide is spent ;
That rose, and steadily advanced to fill
The shores and channels, working Nature's will
Among the mazy streams that backward went,
156 A FACT, AND AN IMAGINATION.
And in the sluggish pools where ships are pent.
And now, its task performed, the Flood stands still
At the green base of many an inland hill,
In placid beauty and sublime content !
Such the repose that Sage and Hero find ;
Such measured rest the sedulous and good
Of humbler name ; whose souls do, like the flood
Of Ocean, press right on ; or gently wind,
Neither to be diverted nor withstood,
Until they reach the bounds by Heaven assigned."
Those silver clouds collected round the sun
His mid-day warmth abate not, seeming less
To overshade than multiply his beams
By soft reflection — grateful to the sky,
To rocks, fields, woods. Nor doth our human sense
Ask, for its pleasure, screen or canopy
More ample than that time-dismantled Oak
Spreads o'er this tuft of heath : which now, attired
In the whole fulness of its bloom, affords
As beautiful a couch as e'er on earth
Was fashioned ; whether by the hand of art
That Eastern Sultan, amid flowers enwrought
On silken tissue, might diffuse his limbs
In languor ; or, by Nature, for repose
Of panting Wood-nymph weary of the chace.
O Lady ! fairer in thy Poet's sight
Than fairest spiritual Creature of the groves,
Approach — and, thus invited, crown with rest
The noon-tide hour : — though truly some there are
Whose footsteps superstitiously avoid
This venerable Tree ; for, when the wind
Blows keenly, it sends forth a creaking sound,
Above the general roar of woods and crags ,
Distinctly heard from far — a doleful note
As if (so Grecian shepherds would have deem'd)
The Hamadryad, pent within, bewailed
Some bitter wrong. Nor is it unbelieved,
By ruder fancy, that a troubled Ghost
Haunts this old Trunk ; lamenting deeds of which
The flowery ground is conscious. But no wind
Sweeps now along this elevated ridge ;
Not even a zephyr stirs ; — the obnoxious Tree
Is mute, — and, in his silence, would look down
On thy reclining form with more delight
Than his Coevals in the sheltered vale
Seem to participate, the whilst they view
Their own far-stretching arms and leafy heads
Vividly pictured in some glassy pool.
That, for a brief space, checks the hurrying stream !
The Stars are Mansions built by Nature's hand ;
And, haply, there the spirits of the blest
Live, clothed in radiance, their immortal vest ;
Huge Ocean frames, within his yellow strand,
A Habitation marvellously planned, -
For life to occupy in love and rest ;
All that we see — is dome, or vault, or nest,
Or fort, erected at her sage command.
Is this a vernal thought ? Even so, the Spring
Gave it while cares were weighing on my heart,
Mid song of birds, and insects murmuring ;
And while the youthful year's prolific art —
Of bud, leaf, blade, and flower — was fashioning
Abodes, where self-disturbance hath no part.
ON THE DETRACTION WHICH FOLLOWED THE PUBLICATION
OF A CERTAIN POEM.
See Milton s Sonnet^ beginning
" A Book was writ of late called ' Tetrachordon.' "
A Book came forth of late called, " Peter Bell ;"
Not negligent the style ; — the matter ? — good
As aught that song records of Robin Hood ;
Or Roy, renowned through many a Scottish dell ;
But some (who brook these hacknied themes full well,
Nor heat, at Tam o* Shanter's name, their blood)
Wax'd wrath, and with foul claws, a harpy brood —
On Bard and Hero clamorously fell.
Heed not, wild Rover once through heath and glen
Who mad'st at length the better life thy choice,
Heed not such onset ! nay, if praise of men
To thee appear not an unmeaning voice.
Lift up that grey-haired forehead, and rejoice
In the just tribute of thy Poet's pen !
ON SEEING A TUFT OF SNOWDROPS IN A STORM.
When haughty expectations prostrate lie.
And grandeur crouches like a guilty thing,
Oft shall the lowly weak, till nature bring
Mature release, in fair society
Survive, and Fortune's utmost anger try ;
Like these frail snow-drops that together cling.
And nod their helmets smitten by the wing
Of many a furious whirlblast sweeping by.
Observe the faithful flowers ! if small to great
May lead the thoughts, thus struggling used to stand
The Emathian phalanx, nobly obstinate ;
And so the bright immortal Theban band,
AVhom onset, fiercely urged at Jove's command,
Might overwhelm, but could not separate !
. TO .
WITH A SELECTION FROM THE POEMS OF ANNE, COUNTESS
OF WINCHELSEA; AND EXTRACTS OF SIMILAR CHARACTER
FROM OTHER WRITERS ; THE WHOLE TRANSCRIBED BY A
Lady ! I rifled a Parnassian Cave
(But seldom trod) of mildly-gleaming ore ;
And cull'd, from sundry beds, a lucid store
Of genuine crystals, pure as those that pave
The azure brooks where Dian joys to lave
Her spotless limbs ; and ventured to explore
Dim shades — for reliques, upon Lethe's shore.
Cast up at random by the sullen wave.
To female hands the treasures were resign'd ;
And lo this work ! — a grotto bright and clear
From stain or taint ; in which thy blameless mind
May feed on thoughts though pensive not austere;
Or if thy deeper spirit be inclin'd
To holy musing it may enter here.
DEATH OF HIS LATE MAJESTY.
Ward of the Law ! — dread Shadow of a King !
Whose Realm had dwindled to one stately room ;
Whose universe was gloom immers'd in gloom,
Darkness as thick as Life o'er Life could fling,
Yet haply cheered with some faint glimmering
Of Faith and Hope ; if thou by nature's doom
Gently hast sunk into the quiet tomb.
Why should we bend in grief, to sorrow cling,
When thankfulness were best ? — Fresh-flowing tears,
Or, where tears flow not, sigh succeeding sigh,
Yield to such after-thought the sole reply
Which justly it can claim. The Nation hears
In this deep knell — silent for threescore years,
An unexampled voice of awful memory !
SUPPOSED TO BE FOUND IN, AND NEAR, A HERMIT's CELL.
Hast thou seen, with train incessant,
Bubbles gliding under ice,
Bodied forth and evanescent.
No one knows by what device ?
Such are thoughts ! — a wind-swept meadow
Mimicking a troubled sea —
Such is life ; — and death a shadow
From the rock eternity !
* # * * # # # J
INSCRIBED UPON A ROCK.
Pause, Traveller ! whosoe'er thou be
Whom chance may lead to this retreat,
Where silence yields reluctantly *
Even to the fleecy straggler's bleat ;
Give voice to what my hand shall trace.
And fear not lest an idle sound
Of words unsuited to the place,
Disturb its solitude profound.
I saw this Rock, while vernal air
Blew softly o'er the russet heath,
Uphold a Monument as fair
As Church or Abbey furnish eth.
Unsullied did it meet the day.
Like marble white, like ether pure ;
As if beneath some hero lay, *
Honoured with costliest sepulture.
My fancy kindled as I gazed ;
And, ever as the sun shone forth,
The flatter'd structure glistened, blazed,
And seemed the proudest thing on earth.
But Frost had reared the gorgeous Pile
Unsound as those which fortune builds ;
To undermine with secret guile,
Sapp'd by the very beam that gilds.
And, while 1 gazed, with sudden shock
Fell the whole Fabric to the ground ;
And naked left this dripping Rock,
With shapeless ruin spread around !
Hopes what are they? — Beads of morning
Strung on slender blades of grass ;
Or a spider's web adorning
In a strait and treacherous pass.
What are fears but voices airy ?
Whispering harm where harm is not,
And deluding the unwary
Till the fatal bolt is shot !
What is glory ? — in the socket
See how dying Tapers fare !
What is pride? — a whizzing rocket
That would emulate a star.
What is friendship ? — do not trust her.
Nor the vows which she has made ;
Diamonds dart their brightest lustre
From a palsy-shaken head.
What is truth ? — a staff rejected ;
Duty ? — an unwelcome clog ;
Joy ? — a dazzling moon reflected
In a swamp or watery bog ;
Bright, as if through ether steering,
To the Traveller's eye it shone :
He hath hailed it re-appearing —
And as quickly it is gone ;
Gone, as if for ever hidden,
Or misshapen to the sight ;
And by sullen weeds forbidden
To resume its native light.
What is youth ? — a dancing billow,
Winds behind, and rocks before !
Age ? — a drooping, tottering willow
On a flat and lazy shore.
What is peace ? — when pain is over.
And love ceases to rebel,
Let the last faint sigh discover
That precedes the passing knell !
NEAR THE SPRING OF THE HERMITAGE.
Troubled long with warring notions.
Long impatient of thy rod,
I resign my soul's emotions
Unto Thee, mysterious God !
What avails the kindly shelter
Yielded by this craggy rent,
If my spirit toss and welter
On the waves of discontent ?
Parching Summer hath no warrant
To consume this crystal well ;
Rains, that make each rill a torrent,
Neither sully it nor swell.
Thus dishonouring not her station,
Would my Life present to Thee,
Gracious God, the pure oblatioil
Of divine Tranquillity !
Not seldom, clad in radiant vest.
Deceitfully goes forth the Morn ;
Not seldom Evening in the west
Sinks smilingly forsworn.
The smoothest seas will sometimes prove,
To the confiding Bark, untrue ;
And, if she trust the stars above.
They can be treacherous too.
The umbrageous Oak, in pomp outspread.
Full oft, when storms the welkin rend,
Draws lightning down upon the head
It promis'd to defend.
But Thou art true, incarnate Lord !
Who didst vouchsafe for man to die ;
Thy smile is sure, thy plighted word
No change can falsify !
I bent before thy gracious throne,
And asked for peace with suppliant knee ;
And peace was given, — nor peace alone.
But faith, sand hope, and extacy I
/^ ii^ <Mri^^
THE PRIORESS'S TALE,
In the follomng Piece I have allowed myself no farther
deviations from the original than were necessary for
the fuent readings and instant understandings of the
Author : so much however is the language altered since
Chau£er's timcy especially in pronunciation^ that much
was to he removed^ and its place supplied with as little
incongruity as possible. The ancient accent has been
retained in a few conjunctions^ such as also and alway,
from a conviction that such sprinklings of antiquity
would be admitted^ by persons of taste, to have a grace-
ful accordance with the subject*
THE PRIORESS'S TALE,
« Call up him who left half told
The story of Cambuscan bold."
O Lord, our Lord ! how wonderously (quoth she)
Thy name in this large world is spread abroad !
For not alone by men of dignity
Thy worship is performed and precious laud ;
But by the mouths of children, gracious God !
Thy goodness is set forth, they when they lie
Upon the breast thy name do glorify.
Wherefore in praise, the worthiest that I may,
Jesu ! of thee, and the white Lily-flower
Which did thee bear, and is a maid for aye,
To tell a story I will use my power ;
Not that I may increase her honour's dower,
For she herself is honour, and the root
Of goodness, next her Son our soul's best boot.
176 THE PRIORESS'S TALE.
O Mother Maid ! O Maid and Mother free !
O bush unburnt ! burning in Moses' sight !
That down didst ravish from the Deity,
Through humbleness, the spirit that did alight
Upon thy heart, whence, through that glory's might.
Conceived was the Father's sapience,
Help me to tell it in thy reverence !
Lady, thy goodness, thy magnificence,
Thy virtue, and thy great humility.
Surpass all science and all utterance ;
For sometimes, Lady ! ere men pray to thee
Thou go'st before in thy benignity,
The light to us vouchsafing of thy prayer,
To be our guide unto thy Son so dear.
My knowledge is so weak, O blissful Queen !
To tell abroad thy mighty worthiness,
That I the weight of it may not sustain ;
But as a child of twelvemonths old or less,
That laboureth his language to express.
Even so fare I ; and therefore, I thee pray.
Guide thou my song which I of thee shall say.
THE PRIORESS'S TALE. 177
There was in Asia, in a mighty town,
'Mong Christian folk, a street where Jews might be ;
Assigned to them and given them for their own
By a great Lord, for gain and usury,
Hateful to Christ and to his company ;
And through this street who list might ride and wend ;
Free was it, and unbarr'd at either end.
A little school of Christian people stood
Down at the farther end, in which there were
A nest of children come of Christian blood,
That learned in that school from year to year
Such sort of doctrine as men used there,
That is to say, to sing and read also
As little children in their childhood do.
Among these children was a widow's son,
A little scholar, scarcely seven years old,
Who day by day unto this school hath gone.
And eke, when he the image did behold
Of Jesu's Mother, as he had been told.
This Child was wont to kneel adown and say
Ave Marie, as he goeth by the way.
178 THE PRIORESS'S TALE.
This Widow thus her Httle Son hath taught
Our bhssful Lady, Jesu's Mother dear,
To worship aye, iind he forgat it not.
For simple infant hath a ready ear.
Sweet is the holiness of youth : and hence,
Calling to mind this matter when I may,
Saint Nicholas in my presence standeth aye,
For he so young to Christ did reverence.
This little Child, while in the school he sate
His primer conning with an earnest cheer,
The whilst the rest their anthem-book repeat
The Alma Redemptoris did he hear ;
And as he durst he drew him near and near,
And hearkened to the words and to the note,
'Till the first verse he learn'd it all by rote.
This Latin knew he nothing what it said
For he too tender was of age to know ;
But to his comrade he repaired, and prayed
That he the meaning of this song would show,
And unto him declare why men sing so ;
This, oftentimes, that he might be at ease,
This child did him beseech, on his bare knees.
THE PRIORESS'S TALE. 179
His Schoolfellow, who elder was than he,
Answered him thus ; — " This song, I have heard say,
Was fashioned for our blissful Lady free ;
Her to salute, and also her to pray
To be our help upon our dying day.
If there is more in this I know it not ;
The song I learn, — small grammar I have got. S rv^ ^'JO -^ -^
" And is this song fashioned in reverence
Of Jesu's Mother ?" said this Innocent,
" Now, certes, I will use my diligence
To con it all ere Christmas-tide be spent;
Although I for my Primer shall be shent,
And shall be beaten three times in an hour,
Our Lady I will praise with all my power."
His Schoolfellow, whom he had so besought,
As they went homeward taught him privily ;
And then he sang it well and fearlessly.
From word to word according to the note :
Twice in a day it passed through his throat ;
Homeward and schoolward whensoever he went, ,
On Jesu's Mother fixed was his intent.
180 THE PRIORESS'S TALE,
Through all the Jewry (this before said I,)
This little child, as he came to and fro,
Full merrily then would he sing and cry,
O Alma Redemptions ! high and low :
The sweetness of Christ's Mother pierced so
His heart, that her to praise, to her to pray,
He cannot stop his singing by the way.
The Serpent, Satan, our first foe, that hath
His wasp's nest in Jew's heart, upswell'd — " O woe,
O Hebrew people !" said he in his wrath,
" Is it an honest thing ? Shall this be so ?
That such a Boy where'er he list shall go
In your despite, and sing his hymns and saws,
Which is against the reverence of our laws !"
From that day forward have the Jews conspired
Out of the world this Innocent to chace ;
And to this end a Homicide they hired.
That in an Alley had a privy place.
And, as the Child 'gan to the School to pace,
This cruel Jew him seized, and held him fast
And cut his throat, and in a pit him cast.
THE PRIORESS'S TALE. 181
I say that him into a pit they threw,
A loathsome pit whence noisome scents exhale;
O cursed folk ! away ye Herod s new !
What may your ill intentions you avail ?
Murder will out ; certes it will not fail ;
Know, that the honour of high God may spread,
The blood cries out on your accursed deed.
O Martyr 'stablished in virginity !
Now may*st thou sing for aye before the throne,
Following the Lamb celestial," quoth she,
" Of which the great Evangelist, Saint John,
In Patmos wrote, who saith of them that go
Before the Lamb singing continually.
That never fleshly woman they did know.
Now this poor widow waiteth all that night
After her little Child, and he came not ;
For which, by earliest glimpse of morning light,
With face all pale with dread and busy thought
She at the School and elsewhere him hath sought,
Until thus far she learned, that he had been
In the Jews' street, and there he last was seen.
182 THE PRIORESS'S TALE,
With Mother's pity in her breast enclosed
She goeth, as she were half out of her mind.
To every place wherein she hath supposed
By likelihood her little Son to find ;
And ever on Christ's Mother meek and kind
She cried, till to the Jewry she was brought.
And him among the accursed Jews she sought.
She asketh, and she piteously doth pray
To every Jew that dwelleth in that place
To tell her if her Child had pass'd that way ;
They all said Nay ; but Jesu of his grace
Gave to her thought, that in a little space
She for her Son in that same spot did cry
Where he was cast into a pit hard by.
O thou great God that dost perform thy laud
By mouths of Innocents, lo ! here thy might ;
This gem of chastity, this emerald,
And eke of martyrdom this ruby bright.
There, where with mangled throat he lay upright.
The Alma Redemptoris 'gan to sing
So loud that with his voice the place did ring.
THE PRIORESS'S TALE. 183
The Christian folk that through the Jewry went
Come to the spot in wonder at the thing ;
And hastily they for the Provost sent ;
Immediately he came not tarrying,
And praiseth Christ that is our heavenly King,
And eke his Mother, honour of Mankind :
Which done, he bade that they the Jews should bind.
This Child with piteous lamentation then
Was taken up, singing his song alway ;
And with procession great and pomp of men
To the next Abbey him they bare away ;
His Mother swooning by the Bier lay :
And scarcely could the people that were near
Remove this second Rachel from the Bier.
Torment and shameful death to every one
This Provost doth for those bad Jews prepare
That of this murder wist, and that anon :
Such wickedness his judgments cannot spare ;
Who will do evil, evil shall he bear ;
Them therefore with wild horses did he draw,
And after that he hung them by the law.
184 THE PRIORESS'S TALE.
Upon his Bier this Innocent doth He
Before the Altar while the Mass doth last :
The Abbot with his Convent's company
Then sped themselves to bury him full fast ;
And, when they holy water on him cast.
Yet spake this Child when sprinkled was the water.
And sang, O Alma Redemptoris Mater !
This Abbot who had been a holy ifian
And was, as all Monks are, or ought to be,
In supplication to the Child began
Thus saying, " O dear Child ! I summon thee
In virtue of the holy Trinity
Tell me the cause why thou dost sing this hymn,
Since that thy throat is cut, as it doth seem."
" My throat is cut unto the bone, I trow,"
Said this young Child, " and by the law of kind
I should have died, yea many hours ago ;
But Jesus Christ, as in the books ye find,
Will that his glory last, and be in mind ;
And, for the worship of his Mother dear.
Yet may I sing, O Alma ! loud and clear.
THE PRIORESS'S TALE. 185
This well of mercy Jesu's Mother sweet
After my knowledge I have loved alway,
And in the hour when I my death did meet
To me she came, and thus to me did say,
" Thou in thy dying sing this holy lay,"
As ye have heard ; and soon as I had sung
Methought she laid a grain upon my tongue.
Wherefore I sing, nor can from song refrain.
In honour of that blissful Maiden free,
'Till from my tongue off-taken is the grain ;
And after that thus said she unto me,
" My little Child, then will I come for thee
Soon as the grain from off thy tongue they take,
Be not dismay' d, I will not thee forsake !"
This holy Monk, this Abbot — him mean I,
Touched then his tongue, and took away the grain ;
And he gave up the ghost full peacefully ;
And, when the Abbot had this wonder seen.
His salt tears trickled down like showers of rain.
And on his face he dropped upon the ground.
And still he lay as if he had been bound.
186 THE PRIORESS'S TALE.
Eke the whole Convent on the pavement lay,
Weeping and praising Jesu's Mother dear ;
And after that they rose, and took their way
And lifted up this Martyr from the Bier,
And in a tomb of precious marble clear
Enclos'd his uncorrupted body sweet. —
Where'er he be, God grant us him to meet !
Young Hew of Lincoln ! in like sort laid low
By cursed Jews — thing well and widely known.
For not long since was dealt the cruel blow,
Pray also thou for us, while here we tarry
Weak sinful folk, that God, with pitying eye.
In mercy would his mercy multiply
On us, for reverence of his Mother Mary !
The sylvan slopes with corn-clad fields
Are hung, as if with golden shields.
Bright trophies of the sun !
Like a fair sister of the sky.
Unruffled doth the blue Lake lie,
The Mountains looking on.
And, sooth to say, yon vocal Grove
Albeit uninspired by love,
By love untaught to ring.
May well afford to mortal ear
An impulse more profoundly dear
Than music of the Spring.
188 SEPTEMBER, 1819.
For that from turbulence and heat
Proceeds, from some uneasy seat
In Nature's struggling frame,
Some region of impatient life ;
And jealousy, and quivering strife,
Therein a portion claim.
This, this is holy ; — while I hear
These vespers of another year,
This hymn of thanks and praise.
My spirit seems to mount above
The anxieties of human love,
And earth's precarious days.
But list ! — though winter storms be nigh,
Unchecked is that soft harmony :
There lives Who can provide
For all his creatures ; and in Him,
Even like the radiant Seraphim,
These Choristers confide.
UPON THE SAME OCCASION.
Departing Summer hath assumed
An aspect tenderly illumed,
The gentlest look of Spring :
That calls from yonder leafy shade
Unfaded, yet prepared to fade,
A timely caroling.
No faint and hesitating trill,
Such tribute as to Winter chill
The lonely red-breast pays !
Clear, loud, and lively is the din.
From social Warblers gathering in
Their harvest of sweet lays.
190 SEPTEMBER, 1819.
Nor doth the example fail to cheer
Me conscious that my leaf is sear.
And yellow on the bough : —
Fall, rosy garlands, from my head !
Ye myrtle wreaths, your fragrance shed
Around a younger brow !
Yet will I temperately rejoice ;
Wide is the range, and free the choice
Of undiscordant themes ;
Which, haply, kindred souls may prize
Not less than vernal extacies.
And passion's feverish dreams.
For deathless powers to verse belong.
And they like Demi-gods are strong
On whom the Muses smile ;
But some their function have disclaimed.
Best pleased with what is aptliest framed
To enervate and defile.
SEPTEMBER, 1819. 191
Not such the initiatory strains
Committed to the silent plains
In Britain's earliest dawn ;
Trembled the groves, the stars grew pale.
While all-too-daringly the veil
Of Nature was withdrawn !
Nor, such the spirit-stirring note
When the live chords Alcaeus smote,
Inflamed by sense of wrong ;
Woe ! woe to Tyrants ! from the lyre
Broke threateningly, in sparkles dire
Of fierce vindictive song.
And not unhallow'd was the page
By winged Love inscribed, to assuage
The pangs of vain pursuit ;
Love listening while the Lesbian Maid
With passion's finest finger swayed
Her own CEolian lute.
192 SEPTEMBER, 1819.
O ye who patiently explore
The wreck of Herculanean lore,
What rapture could ye seize
Some Theban fragment, or unroll
One precious, tender-hearted scroll
Of pure Simonides !
That were, indeed, a genuine birth
Of poesy ; a bursting forth
Of Genius from the dust :
What Horace boasted to behold,
What Maro loved, shall we enfold ?
Can haughty Time be just !
COMPOSED UPON AN EVENING OF EXTRAORDINARY SPLENDOR
Had this effulgence disappeared
With flying haste, I might have sent
Among the speechless clouds a look
Of blank astonishment ;
But 'tis endued with power to stay.
And sanctify one closing day,
That frail Mortality may see.
What is ? — ah no, but what can be I
Time was when field and watery cove
With modulated echoes rang.
While choirs of fervent Angels sang
Their vespers in the grove ;
Or, ranged like stars along some sovereign height.
Warbled, for heaven above and earth below,
Strains suitable to both. — Such holy rite,
Methinks, if audibly repeated now
From hill or valley, could not move
Sublimer transport, purer love.
Than doth this silent spectacle — the gleam -
The shadow — and the peace supreme !
No sound is uttered, — but a deep
And solemn harmony pervades
The hollow vale from steep to steep,
And penetrates the glades.
Far-distant images draw nigh,
CalPd forth by wond'rous potency
Of beamy radiance, that imbues
Whate'er it strikes, with gem-like hues !
In vision exquisitely clear.
Herds range along the mountain side ;
And glistening antlers are descried ;
And gilded flocks appear.
Thine is the tranquil hour, purpureal Eve !
But long as god-like wish, or hope divine,
Informs my spirit, ne'er can I believe
That this magnificence is wholly thine !
— From worlds not quickened by the sun
A portion of the gift is won ;
An intermingling of Heaven's pomp is spread
On ground which British shepherds treaH !
And, if there be whom broken ties
Afflict, or injuries assail.
Yon hazy ridges to their eyes,
Present a glorious scale.
Climbing suffused with sunny air,
To stop — no record hath told where !
And tempting fancy to ascend.
And with immortal spirits blend !
— Wings at my shoulder seem to play ;
But, rooted here, I stand and gaze
On those bright steps that heaven-ward raise
Their practicable way.
Come forth, ye drooping old men, look abroad
And see to what fair countries ye are bound !
And if some Traveller, weary of his road,
Hath slept since noon-tide on the grassy ground,
Ye Genii ! to his covert speed ;
And wake him with such gentle heed
As may attune his soul to meet the dow'r
Bestowed on this transcendent hour !
Such hues from their celestial Urn
Were wont to stream before my eye.
Where'er it wandered in the morn
Of blissful infancy.
This glimpse of glory, why renewed ?
Nay, rather speak with gratitude ;
For, if a vestige of those gleams
Survived, 'twas only in my dreams.
Dread Power ! whom peace and calmness serve
No less than Nature's threatening voice.
If aught unworthy be my choice,
From Thee if I would swerve.
O, let thy grace remind me of the hght,
Full early lost and fruitlessly deplored ;
Which, at this moment, on my waking sight
Appears to shine, by miracle restored !
My soul, though yet confined to earth,
Rejoices in a second birth ;
— 'Tis past, the visionary splendour fades.
And Night approaches with her shades.
The multiplication of mountain-ridges, described, at the
commencement of the third stanza of this Ode, as a kind of
Jacob's Ladder, leading to Heaven, is produced either by
watery vapours, or sunny haze, — in the present instance by
the latter cause. See the account of the Lakes at the end of
this volume. The reader, who is acquainted with the Author's
Ode, intitled, " Intimations of Immortality, &c." will re-
cognize, the allusion to it that pervades the last stanza of the
** A LITTLE onward lend thy guiding hand
To these dark steps, a little further on /"
— What trick of memory to my voice hath brought,
This mournful iteration ? For though Time,
The Conqueror, crowns the Conquer'd, on this brow-
Planting his favourite silver diadem,
Nor he, nor minister of his intent
To run before him, hath enrolled me yet.
Though not unmenaced, among those who lean
Upon a living staff, with borrowed sight.
— O my Antigone, beloved child !
Should that day come — but hark ! the birds salute
The cheerful dawn brightening for me the east ;
For me, thy natural Leader, once again
Impatient to conduct thee, not as erst
A tottering Infant, with compliant stoop
From flower to flower supported ; but to curb
Thy nymph-like step swift-bounding o'er the lawn,
Along the loose rocks, or the slippery verge
Of foaming torrents. — From thy orisons
Come forth^ and, while the morning air is yet
Transparent as the soul of innocent youth,
Let me, thy happy Guide, now point thy way.
And now precede thee, winding to and fro,
Till we by perseverance gain the top
Of some smooth ridge, whose brink precipitous
Kindles intense desire for powers withheld
From this corporeal frame ; whereon who stands,
Is seized with strong incitement to push forth
His arms, as swimmers use, and plunge — dread thought!
For pastime plunge — into the " abrupt abyss,"
Where Ravens spread their plumy vans, at ease !
And yet more gladly thee would I conduct
Through woods and spacious forests, — to behold
There, how the Original of human art,
Heaven-prompted Nature, measures and erects
Her temples, fearless for the stately work,
Though waves in every breeze its high-arched roof,
And storms the pillars rock. But we such schools
Of reverential awe will chiefly seek
In the still summer noon, while beams of light ,
Reposing here, and in the aisles beyond
Traceably gliding through the dusk, recall
To mind the living presences of nuns ;
A gentle, pensive, white-robed sisterhood,
"WTiose saintly radiance mitigates the gloom
Of those terrestrial fabrics, where they serve.
To Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, espoused.
Re-open now thy everlasting gates,
Thou Fane of holy writ ! Ye classic Domes,
To these glad orbs from darksome bondage freed,
Unfold again your portals ! Passage lies
Through you to heights more glorious still, and shades
More awful, where this Darling of my care.
Advancing with me hand in hand, may learn
Without forsaking a too earnest world,
To calm the affections, elevate the soul,
And consecrate her life to truth and love.
THE PASS OF KIRKSTONE.
AViTHiN the mind strong fancies work,
A deep delight the bosom thrills,
Oft as I pass along the fork
Of these fraternal hills :
Where, save the rugged road, we find
No appanage of human kind ;
Nor hint of man, if stone or rock
Seem not his handy-work to mock
By something cognizably shaped ;
Mockery — or model — roughly hewn.
And left as if by earthquake strewn.
Or from the Flood escaped : —
Altars for Druid service fit ;
(But where no fire was ever lit
Unless the glow-worm to the skies
Thence offer nightly sacrifice;)
Wrinkled Egyptian monument;
Green moss-grown tower ; or hoary tent ;
Tents of a camp that never shall be raised ;
On which four thousand years have gazed !
Ye plowshares sparkling on the slopes !
Ye snow-white lambs that trip
Imprisoned mid the formal props
Of restless ownership !
Ye trees that may to-morrow fall,
To feed the insatiate Prodigal !
Lawns, houses, chattels, groves, and fields.
All that the fertile valley shields ;
Wages of folly — baits of crime, —
Of life's uneasy game the stake, —
Playthings that keep the eyes awake
Of drowsy, dotard Time ,• —
O care ! O guilt !^ — O vales and plains,
Here, mid his own unvexed domains,
A Genius dwells, that can subdue
At once all memory of You, —
Most potent when mists veil the sky,
Mists that distort and magnify ;
While the coarse rushes, to the sweeping breeze,
Sigh forth their ancient melodies !
List to those shriller notes ! — that march
Perchance was on the blast.
When through this Height's inverted arch
Rome's earliest legion passed !
— They saw, adventurously impell'd,
And older eyes than theirs beheld,
This block — and yon whose Church-like frame
Gives to the savage Pass its name.
Aspiring Road ! that lov'st to hide
Thy daring in a vapoury bourn,
Not seldom may the hour return
When thou shalt be my Guide ;
And I (as often we find cause.
When life is at a weary pause,
And we have panted up the hill
Of duty with reluctant will)
Be thankful, even though tired and faint,
For the rich bounties of Constraint ; .
Whence oft invigorating transports flow
That Choice lacked courage to bestow !
My soul was grateful for delight
That wore a threatening brow ;
A veil is lifted — can she slight
The scene that opens now?
Though habitation none appear.
The greenness tells, man must be there ;
The shelter — that the perspective
Is of the cHme in which we live ;
Where Toil pursues his daily round ;
Where Pity sheds sweet tears, and Love,
In woodbine bower or birchen grove,
Inflicts his tender wound.
— Who comes not hither ne'er shall know
How beautiful the world below ;
Nor can he guess how lightly leaps
The brook adown the rocky steeps.
Farewell thou desolate Domain !
Hope, pointing to the cultur'd Plain,
Carols like a shepherd boy ;
And who is she ? — can that be Joy ?
Who, with a sun-beam for her guide.
Smoothly skims the meadows wide ;
While Faith, from yonder opening cloud,
To hill and vale proclaims aloud,
" Whatever the weak may dread the wicked dare,
Thy lot, O man, is good, thy portion fair !"
ODE. — 1817.
Beneath the concave of an April sky,
When all the fields with freshest green were dight,
Appeared, in presence of that spiritual eye
That aids or supersedes our grosser sight,
The form and rich habiliments of One
Whose countenance bore resemblance to the sun,
When it reveals, in evening majesty,
Features half lost amid their own pure light.
Poised in the middle region of the air
He hung, — then floated with angelic ease,
Softening that bright effulgence by degrees,
Until he reached a rock, of summit bare.
Where oft the vent'rous Heifer drinks the summer breeze.
Upon the apex of that lofty cone
Alighted, there the Stranger stood alone;
Fair as a gorgeous Fabric of the East
Suddenly raised by some Enchanter's power,
Where nothing was ; and firm as some old Tower
Of Britain's realm, whose leafy crest
Waves high, embellish'd by a gleaming shower !
Beneath the shadow of his purple wings
Rested a golden Harp ; — he touch'd the strings ;
And, after prelude of unearthly sound
Poured through the echoing hills around,
He sang, " No wintry desolations,
" Scorching blight, or noxious dew,
" Affect my native habitations ;
*' Buried in glory, far beyond the scope
*' Of man's enquiring gaze, and imaged to his hope
" (Alas, how faintly !) in the hue
*' Profound of night's ethereal blue ;
** And in the aspect of each radiant orb ; —
" Some fix'd, some wandering with no timid curb ;
But wandering orb and fix'd, to mortal eye,
" Blended in absolute serenity,
*< And free from semblance of decline ; —
" So wills eternal Love and Power divine.
" And what if his presiding breath
" Impart a sympathetic motion
" Unto the gates of life and death,
" Throughout the bounds of earth and ocean ;
" Though all that feeds on nether air,
*' Howe'er magnificent or fair,
" Grows but to perish, and entrust
" Its ruins to their kindred dust ;
*' Yet, by the Almighty's ever-during care,
*' Her procreant vigils Nature keeps
*' Amid the unfathomable deeps ;
" And saves the peopled fields of earth
*' From dread of emptiness or dearth.
*^ Thus, in their stations, lifting tow'rd the sky
" The foliag'd head in cloud-like majesty,
** The shadow-casting race of Trees survive :
" Thus, in the train of Spring, arrive
Sweet Flowers ; — what living eye hath viewed
Their myriads ? — endlessly renewed,
Wherever strikes the sun's glad ray;
Where'er the joyous waters stray ;
Wherever sportive zephyrs bend
Their course, or genial showers descend !
Rejoice, O men ! the very Angels quit
Their mansions unsusceptible of change,
Amid your pleasant bowers to sit.
And through your sweet vicissitudes to range !"
O, nursed at happy distance from the cares
Of a too-anxious world, mild pastoral Muse !
That, to the sparkling crown Urania wears,
And to her sister Clio's laurel wreath,
Prefer'st a garland cull'd from purple heath,
Or blooming thicket moist with morning dews ;
Was such bright Spectacle vouchsafed to v^e ?
And was it granted to the simple ear
Of thy contented Votary
Such melody to hear !
Him rather suits it, side by side with thee,
Wrapped in a fit of pleasing indolence,
While thy tired lute hangs on the hawthorn tree,
To lie and listen, till oer-drowsed sense
Sinks, hardly conscious of the influence,
To the soft murmur of the vagrant Bee.
— A slender sound ! yet hoary Time
Doth, to the Soul exalt it with the chime
Of all his years ; — a company
Of ages coming, ages gone ;
Nations from before them sweeping —
Regions in destruction steeping ; —
But every awful note in unison
With that faint utterance, which tells
Of treasure sucked from buds and bells.
For the pure keeping of those waxen cells ;
Where She, a statist prudent to confer
Upon the public weal ; a warrior bold, —
Radiant all over with unburnished gold.
And armed with living spear for mortal fight ;
A cunning forager
That spreads no waste ; — a social builder, one
In whom all busy offices unite
With all fine functions that afford delight,
Safe through the winter storm in quiet dwells !
And is She brought within the power
Of vision ? — o'er this tempting flower
Hovering until the petals stay
Her flight, and take its voice away ?
Observe each wing — a tiny van ! —
The structure of her laden thigh ;
How fragile ! — yet of ancestry
Mysteriously remote and high ;
High as the imperial front of man,
The roseate bloom on woman's cheek ;
The soaring eagle's curved beak ;
The white plumes of the floating swan ;
Old as the tyger's paws, the lion's mane
Ere shaken by that mood of stern disdain
At which the desart trembles. — Humming Bee !
Thy sting was needless then, perchance unknown ;
The seeds of malice were not sown ;
All creatures met in peace, from fierceness free,
And no pride blended with their dignity.
— Tears had not broken from their source ;
Nor anguish strayed from her Tartarian den :
The golden years maintained a course
Not undiversified, though smooth and even ;
We were not mocked with glimpse and shadow then;
Bright Seraphs mixed familiarly with men ;
And earth and stars composed a universal heaven !
THE COUNTRY OF THE LAKES
Cfie 0ovt\) of dEttslanti.
This Essay, 'which tvas published several years ago as an In-
troduction to some Vieijos of the Lakes, by the Rev. Joseph
Wilkinson, [an expensive "work, and necessarily of limited
circulation^ is notv, 'with emendations and additions, at-
tached to these 'volumes ; from a consciousness of its having
been 'written in the same spirit 'which dictated several of the
poems, and from a belief that it 'will tend materially to
THE COUNTRY OF THE LAKES.
At Lucerne in Switzerland there existed, some years
ago, a model of the Alpine country which encompasses
the Lake of the four Cantons. The spectator ascended
a little platform, and saw mountains, lakes, glaciers,
rivers, woods, waterfalls, and valleys with their cottages
and every other object contained in them, lying at his
feet; all things being represented in their appropriate
colours. It may be easily conceived that this exhibition
afforded an exquisite delight to the imagination, which
was thus tempted to wander at will from valley to valley,
from mountain to mountain, through the deepest re-
cesses of the Alps. But it supplied also a more sub-
216 DESCRIPTION OF THE
stantial pleasure ; for the sublime and beautiful region,
with all its hidden treasures, and their bearings and re-
lations to each other, was thereby comprehended and
understood at once.
Something of this kind (as far as it can be performed by
words, which must needs be inadequately) will here be at-
tempted in respect to the Lakes in the north of England,
and the vales and mountains enclosing and surrounding
them. The delineation if tolerably executed will in some
instances communicate to the traveller, who has already
seen the objects, new information; and will assist iri
giving to his recollections a more orderly arrangement
than his own opportunities of observing may have per-
mitted him to make ; while it will be still more useful to
the future traveller, by directing his attention at once to
distinctions in things which, without such previous aid,
a length of time only could enable him to discover. It
is hoped, also, that this Essay may become generally
serviceable by leading to habits of more exact and con-
siderate observation than, as far as the writer knows,
have hitherto been applied to local scenery. '
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 2it
To begin, then, with the main outUnes of the country.
I know not how to give the reader a distinct image of
these more readily, than by requesting him to place him-
self with me, in imagination, upon some given point ; let
it be the top of either of the mountains, Great Gavel, or
SCawfell ; or, rather, let us suppose our station to be a
cloud hanging midway between these two mountains, at
not more than half a mile's distance from the summit of
each, and not many yards above their highest elevation ;
we shall then see stretched at our feet a number of val-
leys, not fewer than nine, diverging from the point, on
which we are supposed to stand, like spokes from the
nave of a wheel. First, we note, lying to the south-east,
the vale of Langdale, which will conduct the eye to the
long Lake of Winandermere stretched nearly to the sea ;
or rather to the sands of the vast bay of Morcamb, serving
here for the rim of this imaginary wheel;-— let us trace it in
a direction from the south-eas^t towards the south, and we
shall next fix our eyes upon the vale of Coniston, running
up likewise from the sea, but not (as all the other valleys
do) to the nave of the wheel, and therefore it may not
218 DESCRIPTION OF THE
be inaptly represented as a broken spoke sticking in the
rim. Looking forth again, with an inclination towards
the west, immediately at our feet lies the vale of Duddon,
in which is no lake, but a copious stream winding among
fields, rocks, and mountains, and terminating its course
. in the sands of Duddon. The fourth valley next to be
observed, viz. that of Eskdale, is of the same general
character as the last, yet beautifully discriminated from
it by peculiar features. Next, almost due west, look
down upon, and into, the deep valley of Wastdale, with
its little chapel and half a dozen neat scattered dwellings,
a plain of meadow and corn-ground intersected with
stone walls apparently innumerable, like a large piece of
lawless patch-work, or an array of mathematical figures,
such as in the ancient schools of geometry might have been
sportively and fantastically traced out upon sand. Beyond
this little fertile plain lies, within its bed of steep moun-
tains, the long, narrow, stern, and desolate Lake of Wast-
dale ; and beyond this a dusky tract of level ground con-
ducts the eye to the Irish Sea. The several vales of
Ennerdale and Buttermere, with their lakes, next pre-
COUNTRY OF THE LAKIES. 219
sent themselves ; and lastly, the vale of Borrowdale, of
which that of Keswick is only a continuation, stretching
due north, brings us to a point nearly opposite to the
vale of Winandermere with which we began. From this
it will appear, that the image of a wheel thus far exact,
is little more than one half complete ; but the deficiency
on the eastern side may be supplied by the vales of
Wytheburn, Ulswater, Hawswater, and the vale of Gras-
mere and Rydal; none of these, however, run-up to the
central point between Great Gavel and Scawfell. From
this, hitherto our central point, take a flight of not more
than three or four miles eastward to the ridge of Hel-
vellyn, and you will look down upon Wytheburn and
St. John's Vale, which are a branch of the vale of Kes-
wick ; upon Ulswater, stretching due east, and not far
beyond to the south-east, (though from this point not
visible,) lie the vale and lake of Hawswater; and lastly^
the vale of Grasmere, Rydal, and Ambleside, brings
you back to Winandermere, thus completing, though on
the eastern side in a somewhat irregular manner, the
representative figure of the wheel.
220 DESCRIPTION OF THE
Such, concisely given, is the general topographical view
of the country of the Lakes in the north of England ; and
it may be observed, that, from the circumference to the
centre, that is, from the sea or plain country to the moun-
tain stations specified, there is — in the several ridges that
enclose these vales and divide them from each other, I
mean in the forms and surfaces, first of the swelling
grounds, next of the hills and rocks, and lastly of the
mountains — an ascent of almost regular gradation from
elegance and richness to the highest point of grandeur.
It follows therefore from this, first, that these rocks,
hills, and mountains, must present themselves to view
in stages rising above each other, the mountains cluster-
ing together towards the central point; and, next, that
an observer familiar with the several vales, must, from
their various position in relation to the sun, have
had before his eyes every possible embellishment of
beauty, dignity, and splendour, which light and shadow
can bestow upon objects so diversified. For example,
in the vale of Winandermere, if the spectator looks for
gentle and lovely scenes, his eye is turned towards the
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 221
south ; if for the grand, towards the north ; in the vale
of Keswick, which (as hath been said) lies almost due
north of this, it is directly the reverse. Hence, when
the sun is setting in summer far to the north-west, it is
seen by the spectator from the shores or breast of Winan-
dermere, resting among the summits of the loftiest moun-
tains, some of which will perhaps be half or wholly hid
by clouds, or by the blaze of light which the orb diffuses
around it ; and the surface of the lake will reflect before
the eye correspondent colours through every variety of
beauty, and through all degrees of splendour. In the
vale of Keswick, at the same period, the sun sets over
the humbler regions of the landscape, and showers down
upon^^^m the radiance which at once veils and glorifies, —
sending forth, meanwhile, broad streams of rosy, crimson
purple, or golden light, towards the grand mountains in
the south and south-east, which, thus illuminated, with
all their projections and cavities, and with an intermixture
of solemn shadows, are seen distinctly through a cool and
clear atmosphere. Of course, there is as marked a dif-
ference between the noontide appearance of these two,
222 DESCRIPTION OF THE
opposite vales. The bedimming haze that overspreads
the south, and the clear atmosphere and determined
shadows of the clouds in the north, at the same time of
the day, are each seen in these several vales, v^ith a con-
trast as striking. The reader will easily perceive in
what degree the intermediate vales partake of the same
I do not indeed know any tract of country in which,
within so narrow a compass, may be found an equal
variety in the influences of light and shadow upon the
sublime or beautiful features of landscape ; and it is
owing to the combined circumstances to which I have
directed the reader's attention. From a point between
Great Gavel and Scawfell, a shepherd would not require
more than an hour to descend into any one of eight of the
principal vales by which he would be surrounded ; and
all the others lie (with the exception of Hawswater) at
but a small distance. Yet, though clustered together,
every valley has its distinct and separate character ; in
some instances, as if they had been formed in studied
contrast to each other, and in others with the united
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 223
pleasing differences and resemblances of a sisterly rival-
ship. This concentration of interest gives to the coun-
try a decided superiority over the most attractive districts
of Scotland and Wales, especially for the pedestrian tra-
veller. In Scotland and Wales are found undoubtedly
individual scenes, which, in their several kinds, cannot
be excelled. But, in Scotland, particularly, what deso-
late and unimpressive tracts of country almost perpetually
intervene ! so that the traveller, when he reaches a spot
deservedly of great celebrity, would find it difficult to
determine how much of his pleasure is owing to excel-
lence inherent in the landscape itself; and how much to
an instantaneous recovery from an oppression left upon
his spirits by the barrenness and desolation through
which he has passed.
But, to proceed with our survey ; — and, first, of the
Mountains. Their forms are endlessly diversified,
sweeping easily or boldly in simple majesty, abrupt and
precipitous, or soft and elegant. In magnitude and gran-
deur they are individually inferior to the most celebrated
of those in some other parts of this island ; but, in the
224 DESCRIPTION OF THE
combinations which they make, towering above each
other, or lifting themselves in ridges Hke the waves of a
tumultuous sea, and in the beauty and variety of their
surfaces and their colours, they are surpassed by none.
The general surface of the mountains is turf, rendered
rich and green by the moisture of the climate. Some-
times the turf, as in the neighbourhood of Newlands, is
little broken, the whole covering being soft and downy
pasturage. In other places rocks predominate ; the soil
is laid bare by torrents and burstings of water from the
sides of the mountains in heavy rains ; and occasionally
their perpendicular sides are seamed by ravines (formed
also by rains and torrents) which, meeting in angular
points, entrench and scar over the surface with numerous
figures like the letters W and Y.
. The Mountains are composed of the stone by mi-
neralogists termed schist, which, as you approach the
plain country, gives place to lime-stone and free-stone ;
but schist being the substance of the mountains, the
predominant colour of their roclcy parts is bluish, or
hoary gray — the general tint of the lichens with which
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES.
the bare stone is encrusted. With this blue or grey
colour is frequently intermixed a red tinge, proceeding
from the iron that interveins the stone, and impregnates
the soil. The iron is the principle of decomposition in
these rocks ; and hence, when they become pulverized,
the elementary particles crumbling down overspread in
many places the steep and almost precipitous sides of
the mountains with an intermixture of colours, like the
compound hues of a dove's neck. When, in the heat of
advancing summer, the fresh green tint of the herbage
has somewhat faded, it is again revived by the appearance
of the fern profusely spread every where ; and, upon this
plant, more than upon any thing else, do the changes
which the seasons make in the colouring of the moun-
tains depend. About the first week in October, the rich
green, which prevailed through the whole summer, is
usually passed away. The brilliant and various colours
of the fern are then in harmony with the autumnal woods;
bright yellow or lemon colour, at the base of the moun-
tains, melting gradually, through orange, to a dark russet
brown towards the summits, where the plant being more
226 DESCRIPTION OF THE
exposed to the weather is in a more advanced state of
decay. Neither heath nor fiarze are generally found upon
the sides of these mountains, though in some places they
are richly adorned by them. We may add, that the
mountains are of height sufficient to have the surface to-
wards the summits softened by distance, and to imbibe
the finest aerial hues. In common also with other moun-
tains, their apparent forms and colours are perpetually
changed by the clouds and vapours which float round
them : the effect indeed of mist or haze, in a country of
this character, is like that of magic. I have seen six or
seven ridges rising above each other, all created in a
moment by the vapours upon the side of a mountain,
which, in its ordinary appearance, showed not a
projecting point to furnish even a hint for such an
I will take this opportunity of observing, that they,
who have studied the appearances of nature, feel that the
superiority, in point of visual interest, of mountainous
over other countries — is more strikingly displayed in
winter than in summer. This, as must be obvious, is
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 227
partly owing to the forms of the mountains, which, of
course, are not affected by the seasons ; but also, in no
small degree, to the greater variety that exists in their
winter than their summer colouring. This variety is such,
and so harmoniously preserved, that it leaves little cause
of regret when the splendour of autumn is passed away.
The oak-coppices, upon the sides of the mountains, re-
tain russet leaves ; the birch stands conspicuous with its
silver stem and puce-coloured twigs; the hollies, with
green leaves and scarlet berries, have come forth to view
from among the deciduous trees, whose summer foliage
had concealed them ; the ivy is now plentifully apparent
upon the stems and boughs of the trees, and among the
woody rocks. In place of the uniform summer-green of
the herbage and fern, many rich colours play into each
other over the surface of the mountains ; turf (the tints
of which are interchangeably tawny-green, olive, and
brown,) beds of withered fern, and grey rocks, being
harmoniously blended together. The mosses and lichens
are never so fresh and flourishing as in winter, if it be
not a season of frost ; and their minute beauties prodi-
228 DESCRIPTION OF THE
gaily adorn the fore-ground. Wherever we turn, we
find these productions of nature, to which winter is
rather favourable than unkindly, scattered over the walls,
banks of earth, rocks, and stones, and upon the trunks
of trees, with the intermixture of several species of small
fern, now green and fresh ; and, to the observing pas-
senger, their forms and colours are a source of inex-
haustible admiration. Add to this the hoar-frost and
snow, with all the varieties they create, and which volumes
would not be sufficient to describe. I will content myself
with one instance of the colouring produced by snow,
which may not be uninteresting to painters. It is ex-
tracted from the memorandum -book of a friend ; and for
its accuracy I can speak, having been an eye-witness of
the appearance. " I observed," says he, " the beau-
tiful effect of the drifted snow upon the mountains, and
the perfect tone of colour. From the top of the moun-
tains downwards a rich olive was produced by the pow-
dery snow and the grass, which olive was warmed with
a little brown, and in this way harmoniously combined,
by insensible gradations, with the white. The drifting
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES, 229
took away the monotony of snow ; and the whole vale of
Grasmere, seen from the terrace walk in Easedale, was
as varied, perhaps more so, than even in the pomp
of autumn. In the distance was Loughrigg-Fell, the
basin-wall of the lake : this, from the summit downward,
was a rich orange-olive ; then the lake of a bright olive-
green, nearly the same tint as the snow-powdered moun-
tain tops and high slopes in Easedale; and lastly, the
church with its firs forming the centre of the view. Next
to the church with its firs, came nine distinguishable
hills, six of them with woody sides turned towards us,
all of them oak-copses with their bright red leaves and
snow-powdered twigs ; these hills — so variously situated
to each other, and to the view in general, so variously
powdered, some only enough to give the herbage a rich
brown tint, one intensely white and lighting up all the
others — were yet so placed, as in the most inobtrusive
manner to harmonise by contrast with a perfect naked,
snowless bleak summit in the far distance."
Having spoken of the forms, surface, and colour of the
mountains, let us descend into the Valleys. Though
230 DESCRIPTION OF THE
these have been represented under the general image of
the spokes of a wheel, they are, for the most part, wind-
ing; the windings of many being abrupt and intricate.
And, it may be observed, that, in one circumstance,
the general shape of them all has been determined by
that primitive conformation through which so many
became receptacles of lakes. For they are not formed,
as are most of the celebrated Welsh valleys, by an ap-
proximation of the sloping bases of the opposite moun-
tains towards each other, leaving little more between
than a channel for the passage of a hasty river ; but the
bottom of these valleys is, for the most part, a spacious
and gently declining area, apparently level as the floor of
a temple, or the surface of a lake, and beautifully broken,
in many cases, by rocks and hills, which rise up like
islands from the plain. In such of the valleys as make
many windings, these level areas open upon the traveller
in succession, divided from each other sometimes by a
mutual approximation of the hills, leaving only passage
for a river, sometimes by correspondent windings, with-
out such approximation ; and sometimes by a bold ad-
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 231
vance of one mountain towards that which is opposite to
it. It may here be observed with propriety, that the
several rocks and hills, which have been described as
rising up like islands from the level area of the vale,
have regulated the choice of the inhabitants in the situ-
ation of their dwellings. Where none of these are found,
and the inclination of the ground is not sufficiently rapid
easily to carry off the waters, (as in the higher part of
Langdale, for instance,) the houses are not sprinkled over
the middle part of the vales, but confined to their sides,
being placed merely so far up the mountain as to pro-
tect them from the floods. But where these rocks and
hills have been scattered over the plain of the vale, (as
in Grasmere, Donnerdale, Eskdale, &c.) the beauty
which they give to the scene is much heightened by a
single cottage, or cluster of cottages, that will be almost
always found under them or upon their sides ; dryness
and shelter having tempted the Dalesmen to fix their
I shall now speak of the Lakes of this country. The
form of the lake is most perfect when, like Derwent-
232 DESCRIPTION QF THE
water and some of the smaller lakes, it least resembles
that of a river ; — I mean, when being looked at from
any given point where the whole may be seen at once,
the width of it bears such proportion to the length, that,
however the outline may be diversified by far-shooting
bays, it never assumes the shape of a river, and is con-
templated with that placid and quiet feeling which be-
longs peculiarly to the lake — as a body of still water
under the influence of no current; reflecting therefore
the clouds, the light, and all the imagery of the sky and
surrounding hills; expressing also and making visible
the changes of the atmosphere, and motions of the
lightest breeze, and subject to agitation only from the
—• The visible scene
Would enter unawares into his mind
With all its solemn imagery, its rocks,
Its woods, and that uncertain heaven received
Into the bosom of the steady lake !
It must be noticed, as a favourable characteristic of the
lakes of this country, that, though several of the largest.
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 233
such as Winandermere, Ulswater, Haws water, &c. do,
when the whole length of them is commanded from an
elevated point, lose somewhat of the peculiar form of the
lake, and assume the resemblance of a magnificent river ;
yet, as their shape is winding, (particularly that of Uls-
water and Hawswater) when the view of the whole is
obstructed by those barriers which determine the wind-
ings, and the spectator is confined to one reach, the ap-
propriate feehng is revived ; and one lake may thus in
succession present to the eye the essential characteristic
of many. But, though the forms of the large lakes have
this advantage, it is nevertheless a circumstance favour-
able to the beauty of the country, that the largest of
them are comparatively small ; and that the same valley
generally furnishes a succession of lakes, instead of being
filled with one. The valleys in North Wales, as hath been
observed, are not formed for the reception of lakes ; those
of Switzerland, Scotland, and this part of the north of
England, are so formed ; but, in Switzerland and Scot-
land, the proportion of diffused water is often too great,
as at the lake of Geneva for instance, and in most of the
234 DESCRIPTION OF THE
Scotch lakes. No doubt it sounds magnificent and flat-
ters the imagination to hear at a distance of expanses of
water so many leagues in length and miles in width ;
and such ample room may be delightful to the fresh-
water sailor scudding with a lively breeze amid the ra-
pidly-shifting scenery. But, who ever travelled along the
banks of Loch-Lomond, variegated as the lower part is
by islands, without feeling that a speedier termination
of the long vista of blank water would be acceptable ; and
without wishing for an interposition of green meadows,
trees, and cottages, and a sparkling stream to run by
his side ? In fact, a notion of grandeur, as connected
with magnitude, has seduced persons of taste into a ge-
neral mistake upon this subject. It is much more de-
sirable, for the purposes of pleasure, that lakes should
be numerous, and small or middle-sized, than large, not
only for communication by walks and rides, but for va-
riety, and for recurrence of similar appearances. To
illustrate this by one instance : — how pleasing is it to
have a ready and frequent opportunity of watching, at
the outlet of a lake, the stream pushing its way. among
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 235
the rocks in lively contrast with the stillness from which
it has escaped ; and how amusing to compare its noisy
and turbulent motions with the gentle playfulness of the
breezes, that may be starting up or wandering here and
there over the faintly-rippled surface of the broad water !
I may add, as a general remark, that, in lakes of great
width, the shores cannot be distinctly seen at the same
time, and therefore contribute little to mutual illustration
and ornament; and if, like the American and Asiatic
lakes, the opposite shores are out of sight of each other,
then unfortunately the traveller is reminded of a nobler
object ; he has the blankness of a sea-prospect without
the same grandeur and accompanying sense of power.
As the' comparatively small size of the lakes in the
North of England is favourable to the production of
variegated landscape, their hoiindary-line also is for the
. most part gracefully or boldly indented. That uni-
formity which prevails in the primitive frame of the
lower grounds among all chains or clusters of moun-
tains where large bodies of still water are bedded, is
broken by the secondary agents of nature, ever at work
236 DESCRIPTION OF THE
to supply the deficiencies of the mould in which things
were originally cast. It need scarcely be observed that
using the word, deficiencies, I do not speak with refer-
ence to those stronger emotions which a region of
mountains is peculiarly fitted to excite. The bases of
those huge barriers may run for a long space in straight
lines, and these parallel to each other; the opposite
sides of a profound vale may ascend as exact counter-
parts or in mutual reflection like the billows of a troubled
sea; and the impression be, from its very simplicity,
more awful and sublime. Sublimity is the result of
Nature's first great dealings with the superficies of the
earth ; but the general tendency of her subsequent oper-
ations, is towards the production of beauty, by a mul-
tiplicity of symmetrical parts uniting in a consistent
whole. This is every where exemplified along the
margin of these lakes. Masses of rock, that have been
precipitated from the heights into the area of waters, lie
frequently like stranded ships; or have acquired the
compact structure of jutting piers ; or project in little
peninsulas crested with native wood. The smallest
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 237
rivulet •^— one whose silent influx is scarcely noticeable
in a season of dry weather so faint is the dimple made
by it on the surface of the smooth lake — will be found
to have been not useless in shaping, by its deposits of
gravel and soil in time of flood, a curve that would
not otherwise have existed. But the more powerful
brooks, encroaching upon the level of the lake, have in
course of time given birth to ample promontories, whose
sweeping line often contrasts boldly with the longitudinal
base of the steeps on the opposite shore ; while their flat
or gently-sloping surface never fails to introduce, into
the midst of desolation and barrenness, the elements of
fertility, even where the habitations of men may not
happen to have been raised. These alluvial promon-
tories, however, threaten in some places to bisect the
waters which they have long adorned ; and, in course of
ages, they will cause some of the lakes to dwindle into
numerous and insignificant pools ; which, in their turn,
will finally be filled up. But the man of taste will say,
it is an impertinent calculation that leads to such un-
welcome conclusions; — let us rather be content with
2S8 DESCRIPTION OF THE
appearances as they are, and pursue in imagination the
meandering shores, whether rugged steeps, admitting of
no cultivation, descend into the water ; or the shore is
formed by gently-sloping lawns and rich woods, or by
flat and fertile meadows stretching between the margin
of the lake and the mountains. Among minuter recom-
mendations will be noted with pleasure the curved rim
of fine blue gravel thrown up by the waves, especially
in bays exposed to the setting-in of strong winds ; here
and there are found, bordering the lake, groves, if I
may so call them, of reeds and bulrushes ; or plots of
water-lilies lifting up their large circular leaves to the
breeze, while the white flower is heaving upon the
The Islands are neither so numerous nor so beau-
tiful as might be expected from the account I have
given of the manner in which the level areas of the vales
are so frequently diversified by rocks, hills, and hillocks,
scattered over them ; nor are they ornamented, as are
several islands of the lakes in Scotland, by the remains
of old castles or other places of defence, or of monastic
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 239
edifices. There is however a beautiful cluster of islands
on Winandermere ; a pair pleasingly contrasted upon
Rydal ; nor must the solitary green island at Grasmere
be forgotten. In the bosom of each of the lakes of
Ennerdale and Devock-water is a single rock which,
owing to its neighbourhood to the sea, is —
" The haunt of cormorants and sea-mews* clang,"
a music well suited to the stern and wild character of the
several scenes !
This part of the subject may be concluded with ob-
serving — that, from the multitude of brooks and tor-
rents that fall into these lakes, and of internal springs
by which they are fed, and which circulate through them
like veins, they are truly living lakes, " vivi lacus ;^
and are thus discriminated from the stagnant and sullen
pools frequent among mountains that have been formed
by volcanoes, and from the shallow meres found in flat
and fenny countries. The water is also pure and crys-
talline ; so that, if it were not for the reflections of the
incumbent mountains by which it is darkened, a delusion
240 DESCRIPTION OF THE
might be felt, by a person resting quietly in a boat on
the bosom of Wi^iandermere or Derwent-water, similar
to that which C^trver so beautifuUv describes when he
was floating alone in the middle of the lake Erie or
Ontario, and could almost have imagined that his boat
was suspended in an element as pure as air, or rather
that the air and water were one.
Having spoken of Lakes I must not omit to mention,
as a kindred feature of this country, those bodies of still
water called Tarns. These are found in some of the
valleys, and are very numerous upon the mountains. A
Tarn, in a Vale, implies, for the most part, that the bed
of the vale is not happily formed ; that the water of the
brooks can neither wholly escape, nor diffuse itself over
a large area. Accordingly, in such situations. Tarns
are often surrounded by a tract of boggy ground which
has an unsightly appearance ; but this is not always the
case, and in the cultivated parts of the country, when
the shores of the Tarn are determined, it differs only
from the Lake in being smaller, and in belonging mostly
to a smaller valley or circular recess. Of this class of
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 241
miniature lakes Loughrigg Tarn, near Grasmere, is the
most beautiful example. It has a margin of green firm
meadows, of rocks, and rocky woods, a few reeds here,
a little company of water-lilies there, with beds of gravel
or stone beyond ; a tiny stream issuing neither briskly
nor sluggishly out of it ; but its feeding rills, from the
shortness of their course, so small as to be scarcely
visible. Five or six cottages are reflected in its peaceful
bosom; rocky and barren steeps rise up above the
hanging enclosures ; and the solemn pikes of Langdale
overlook, from a distance, the low cultivated ridge of
land that forms the northern boundary of this small,
quiet, and fertile domain. The mountain Tarns can
only be recommended to the notice of the inquisitive
traveller who has time to spare. They are difficult of
access and naked; yet some of them are, in their per-
manent forms, very grand ; and there are accidents of
things which would make the meanest of them interest-
ing. At all events, one of these pools is an acceptable
sight to the mountain wanderer, not merely as an inci-
dent that diversifies the prospect,^ but as forming in his
242 DESCRIPTION OF THE
mind a centre or conspicuous point to which objects,
otherwise disconnected or unsubordinated, may be re-
ferred. Some few have a varied outline, with bold
heath-clad promontories ; and, as they mostly lie at the
foot of a steep precipice, the water, where the sun is not
shining upon it, appears black and sullen ; and round
the margin huge stones and masses of rock are scat-
tered; some defying conjecture as to the means by which
they came there, and others obviously fallen from on
high — the contribution of ages ! The sense, also, of
some repulsive power strongly put forth — excited by
the prospect of a body of pure water unattended with
groves and other cheerful rural images by which fresh
water is usually accompanied, and unable to give any
furtherance to the meagre vegetation around it —
heightens the melancholy natural to such scenes. Nor
is the feeling of solitude often more forcibly or more
solemnly impressed than by the side of one of these moun-
tain pools : though desolate and forbidding, it seems a
distinct place to repair to ; yet where the visitants must be
rare, and there can be no disturbance. Water-fowl
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 243
flock hither; and the lonely Angler may oftentimes
here be seen : but the imagination, not content with this
scanty allowance of society, is tempted to attribute a
voluntary power to every change which takes place in
such a spot, whether it be the breeze that Wanders over
the surface of the water, or the splendid lights of evening
resting upon it in the midst of awful precipices.
" There, sometimes does a leaping fish
Send through the tarn a lonely cheer ;
The crags repeat the raven's croak
In symphony austere :
Thither the rainbow comes, the cloud,
And mists that spread the flying shroud,
And sunbeams, and the sounding blast, —
Though this country is, on one side, bounded by the
sea, which combines beautifully, from some elevated
points of view, with the inland scenery ; yet the sestuaries
cannot pretend to vie with those of Scotland and Wales :
— the Lakes are such in the strict and usual sense of
the word, being all of fresh water ; nor have the Rivers,
244 DESCRIPTION OF THE
from the shortness of their course, time to acquire that
body of water necessary to confer upon them much
majesty. In fact, while they continue in the mountain
and lake-country, they are rather large brooks than
rivers. The water is perfectly pellucid, through which
in many places are seen to a great depth their beds of
rock or of blue gravel which give to the water itself an
exquisitely cerulean colour : this is particularly striking
in the rivers, Derwent and Duddon, which may be
compared, such and so various are their beauties, to
any two rivers of equal length of course in any coun-
try. The number of the torrents and smaller brooks is
infinite, with their water-falls and water-breaks; and
they need not here be described. I will only observe
that^ as many, even of the smallest of these rills, have
either found, or made for themselves, recesses in the
sides of the mountains or in the vales, they have tempted
the primitive inhabitants to settle near them for shelter ;
and hence the retirement and seclusion by which these
cottages are endeared to the eye of the man of sen-
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 245
The Woods consist chieHy of oak, ash, and birch,
and here and there a species of elm, with underwood of
hazel, the white and black thorn, and hollies ; in moist
places alders and willows abound ; and yews among the
the rocks. Formerly the whole country must have been
covered with wood to a great height up the mountains ;
and native Scotch Firs (as in the northern part of Scot-
land to this day) must have grown in great profusion.
But no one of these old inhabitants of the country re-
mains, or perhaps has done for some hundreds of years ;
beautiful traces however of the universal sylvan appear-
ance the country formerly had, are yet seen, both in the
native coppice-woods that remain, and have been pro-
tected by enclosures, and also in the forest-trees and hol-
lies, which, though disappearing fast, are yet scattered
both over the inclosed and uninclosed parts of the moun-
tains. The same is expressed by the beauty and intri-
cacy with which the fields and coppice-woods are often
intermingled: the plough of the first settlers having
followed naturally the veins of richer, dryer, or less stony
soil ; and thus it has shaped out an intermixture of wood
R 3 •
246 DESCRIPTION OF THE
and lawn with a grace and wildness which it would have
been impossible for the hand of studied art to produce.
Other trees have been introduced within these last fifty
years, such as beeches, larches, limes, &c. and plant-
ations of Scotch firs, seldom with advantage, and often
with great injury to the appearance of the country ; but
the sycamore (which I believe was brought into this
island from Germany, not more than two hundred years
ago) has long been the favourite of the cottagers ; and,
with the Scotch fir, has been chosen to screen their
dwellings ; and is sometimes found in the fields whither
the winds or waters may have carried its seeds.
The want most felt, however, is that of timber trees.
There are few magnificent ones to be found near any of
the lakes; and, unless greater care be taken, there
will in a short time scarcely be left an ancient oak that
would repay the cost of felling. The neighbourhood of
Rydal, notwithstanding the havoc which has been made,
is yet nobly distinguished. In the woods of Lowther,
also, is found an almost matchless store of the grandest
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 247
trees, and all the majesty and wildness of the native
Among the smaller vegetable ornaments provided
here by nature, must be reckoned the juniper, bilberry,
and the broom-plant, with which the hills and woods
abound; the Dutch myrtle in moist places; and the
endless variety of brilliant flowers in the fields and
meadows ; which, if the agriculture of the country were
more carefully attended to, would disappear. Nor can
I omit again to notice the lichens and mosses, — their
profusion, beauty, and variety exceed those of any other
country I have seen.
Thus far I have chiefly spoken of the features by
which Nature has discriminated this country from
others. I will now describe, in general terms, in what
manner it is indebted to the hand of man. What I
have to notice on this subject will emanate most easily
and perspicuously from a description of the ancient
and present inhabitants, their occupations, their con-
dition of life, the distribution of landed property among
them, and the tenure by which it is holden.
248 DESCRIPTION OF THE
The reader will suiFer me here to recall to his mind
the shapes of the valleys and their position with respect
to each other, and the forms and substance of the in-
tervening mountains. He will people the valleys with
lakes and rivers ; the coves and sides of the moun-
tains with pools and torrents ; and will bound half of the
circle which we have contemplated by the sands of the
sea, or by the sea itself. He will conceive that, from
the point upon which he before stood, he looks down
upon this scene before the country had been penetra-
ted by any inhabitants : — to vary his sensations and to
break in upon their stillness, he will form to himself
an image of the tides visiting and re- visiting the Friths,
the main sea dashing against the bolder shore, the rivers
pursuing their course to be lost in the mighty mass of
waters. He may see or hear in fancy the winds sweep-
ing over the lakes, or piping with a loud voice among
the mountain peaks ; and, lastly, may think of the pri-
meval woods shedding and renewing their leaves with no
human eye to notice, or human heart to regret or wel-
come the change. " When the first settlers entered this
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. _ 249
region (says an animated writer) they found it over-
spread with wood ; forest trees, the fir, the oak, the
ash, and the birch, had skirted the fells, tufted the hills,
and shaded the valleys through centuries of silent soli-
tude ; the birds and beasts of prey reigned over the
meeker species ; and the helium inter omnia maintained
the balance of nature in the empire of beasts."
Such was the state and appearance of this region when
the aboriginal colonists of the Celtic tribes were first
driven or drawn towards it, and became joint tenants with
the wolf, the boar, the wild bull, the red deer, and the
leigh, a gigantic species of deer which has been long
extinct ; while the inaccessible crags were occupied by
the falcon, the raven, and the eagle. The inner parts
were too secluded and of too little value to participate
much of the benefit of Roman manners ; and though
these conquerors encouraged the Britons to the improve-
ment of their lands in the plain country of Furness and
Cumberland, they seem to have had little connection
with the mountains, except for military purposes, or in
subservience to the profit they drew from the mines.
250 DESCRIPTION OF THE
When the Romans retired from Great Britain, it is
well known that these mountain fastnesses furnished a
protection to some unsubdued Britons, long after the
more accessible and more fertile districts had been seized
by the Saxon or Danish invader. A few though distinct
traces of Roman forts or camps, as at Ambleside, and
upon Dunmallet, and two or three circles of rude stones
attributed to the Druids, are the only vestiges that remain
upon the surface of the country, of these ancient occu-
pants ; and, as the Saxons and Danes, who succeeded to
the possession of the villages and hamlets which had been
established by the Britons, seem at first to have confined
themselves to the open country, — we may descend at
once to times long posterior to the conquest by the Nor-
mans when their feudal polity was regularly established.
We may easily conceive that these narrow dales and
mountain sides, choaked up as they must have been with
wood, lying out of the way of communication with other
parts of the Island, and upon the edge of a hostile king-
dom, could have little attraction for the high-born and
powerful; especially as the more open parts of the
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 251
country furnished positions for castles and houses of de-
fence sufficient to repel any of those sudden attapks,
which, in the then rude state of military knowledge, could
be made upon them. Accordingly, the more retired
regions (and, observe, it is to these I am now confining
myself) must have been neglected or shunned even by
the persons whose baronial or signioral rights extended
over them, and left, doubtless, partly as a place of re-
fuge for outlaws and robbers, and partly granted out for
the more settled habitation of a few vassals following the
employment of shepherds or woodlanders. Hence
these lakes and inner valleys are unadorned by any of
the remains of ancient grandeur, castles, or monastic
edifices, which are only found upon the skirts of this
countiy, as Furness Abbey, Calder Abbey, the
Priory of Lannercost, Gleaston Castle, — long ago a
residence of the Flemings, — and the numerous an-
cient castles of the Cliffords and the Dacres. On the
southern sideof these mountains, (especially in that part
known by the name of Furness Fells, which is more
reniote from the borders,) the state of society would ne-
252 DESCRIPTION OF THE
cessarily be more settled ; though it was fashioned not a
little, with the rest of the country, by its neighbourhood
to a hostile kingdom. We will therefore give a sketch
of the oeconomy of the Abbots in the distribution of lands
among their tenants, as similar plans were doubtless
adopted by other Lords, and as the consequences have
affected the face of the country materially to the present
day, being in fact one of the principal causes which give
it such a striking superiority, in beauty and interest,
over all other parts of the island.
" When the Abbots of Furness," says an author
before cited, "enfranchised their villains, and raised them
to the dignity of customary tenants, the lands, which
they had cultivated for their lord, were divided into
whole tenements ; each of which, besides the customary
annual rent, was charged with the obligation of having
in readiness a man completely armed for the king's
service on the borders, or elsewhere : each of these
whole tenements was again subdivided into four equal
parts ; each villain had one ; and the party tenant con-
tributed his share to the support of the man at arms.
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 253
Rtid of other burdens. These divisions were not pro-
perly distinguished; the land remained mixed; each
tenant had a share through all the arable and meadow-
land, and common of pasture over all the wastes. These
sub- tenements were judged sufficient for the support of
so many families ; and no further division was permitted.
These divisions and sub-divisions were convenient at the
time for which they were calculated ; the land, so par-
celled out, was, of necessity, more attended to ; and
the industry greater, when more persons were to be
supported by the produce of it. The frontier of the
kingdom, within which Furness was considered, was in
a constant state of attack and defence ; more hands,
therefore, were necessary to guard the coast, to repel
an invasion from Scotland, or make reprisals on the
hostile neighbour. The dividing the lands in such
manner as has been shown, increased the number of
inhabitants, and kept them at home till called for ; and,
the land being mixed, and the several tenants united in
equipping the plough, the absence of the fourth man
was no prejudice to the cultivation of his land, which
was committed to the care of three.
25i DESCRIPTION OF THE
While the villains of Low Furness were thus distri-
buted over the land, and employed in agriculture ; those
of High Furness were charged with the care of flocks
and herds, to protect them from the wolves which
lurked in the thickets, and in winter to browse them
with the tender sprouts of hollies and ash. This custom
was not till lately discontinued in High Furness ; and
holly-trees were carefully preserved for that purpose
when , all other wood was cleared off; large tracts of
common being so covered with these trees, as to have
the appearance of a forest of hollies. At the Shepherd's
call, the flocks surrounded the holly-bush, and received
the croppings at his hand, which they greedily nibbled
up, bleating for more. The Abbots of Furness enfran-
chised these pastoral vassals, and permitted them to
enclose quillets to their houses, for which they paid en-
croachment rent*" — West's Antiquities of Furness.
However desirable, for the purposes of defence, a
numerous population might be, it was not possible to
make at once the same numerous allotments among the
untilled valleys, and upon the sides of the mountains, as
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 255
had been made in the cultivated plains. The enfran-
chised shepherd, or woodlander, having chosen there
his place of residence, builds it of sods, or of the
mountain-stone, and, with the permission of his lord,
encloses, like Robinson Crusoe, a small croft or two
immediately at his door for such animals chiefly as he
wishes to protect. Others are happy to imitate his
example, and avail themselves of the same privileges ;
and thus a population, mainly of Danish or Norse ori-
gin, as the dialect indicates, crept on towards the more
secluded parts of the valleys. Chapels, daughters of
some distant mother church, are first erected in the
more open and fertile vales, as those of Bowness and
Grasmere, offsets of Kendal ; which again, after a
period, as the settled population increases, become
mother-churches to smaller edifices, scattered, at length,
in almost every dale throughout the country. The en-
closures, formed by the tenantry, are for a long time
confined to the home-steads ; and the arable and meadow
land of the vales is possessed in common field ; the
several portions being marked out by stones, bushes, or
256 DESCRIPTION OF THE
trees ; which portions, where the custom has survived,
to this day are called dales^ from the word deylen^ to
distribute ; but while the valley was thus lying open,
enclosures seem to have taken place upon the sides of
the mountains ; because the land there was not inter-
mixed, and was of little comparative value; and, therefore,
small opposition would be made to its being appropriated
by those to whose habitations it was contiguous. Hence
the singular appearance which the sides of many of
these mountains exhibit, intersected, as they are, al-
most to their summit, with stone walls, of which the
fences are always formed. When first erected, they
must have little disfigured the face of the country ; as
part of the lines would every where be hidden by the
quantity of native wood then remaining ; and the lines
would also be broken (as they still are) by the rocks
which interrupt and vary their course. In the mea-
dows, and in those parts of the lower grounds where
the soil has not been sufficiently drained, and could not
afford a stable foundation, there, when the increasing
value of land, and the inconvenience suffered from
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 257
intermixed plots of ground in common field, had in-
duced each inhabitant to inclose his own, they were
compelled to make the fences of alders, willows, and
other trees. These, where the native wood had
disappeared, have frequently enriched the valleys
with a sylvan appearance ; while the intricate inter-
mixture of property has given to the fences a grace-
ful irregularity, which, where large properties are
prevalent, and larger capitals employed in agricul-
ture, is unknown. This sylvan appearance is still
further heightened by the number of ash-trees which
have been planted in rows along the quick fences, and
along the walls, for the purpose of browzing cattle at
the approach of winter. The branches are lopped off
and strewed upon the pastures ; and, when the cattle
have stripped them of the leaves, they are used for
repairing hedges, or for fuel.
We have thus seen a numerous body of Dalesmen'
creeping into possession of their home-steads, their little
crofts, their mountain-enclosures ; and, finally, the whole
vale is visibly divided ; except, perhaps, here and there
25S DESCRIPTION OF THE
some marshy ground, which, till fully drained, would
not repay the trouble of enclosing. But these last par-
titions do not seem to have been general, till long after
the pacification of the Borders, by the union of the
two crowns ; when the cause, which had first deter-
mined the distribution of land into such small parcels,
had not only ceased, — but likewise a general improve-
ment had taken place in the country, with a corre-
spondent rise in the value of its produce. From the
time of the union, it is certain that this species of feudal
population would rapidly diminish. That it was for-
merly much more numerous than it is at present, is
evident from the multitude of tenements (I do not mean
houses, but small divisions of land,) which belonged
formerly each to its several proprietor, and for which
separate fines are paid to the manorial lord at this day.
These are often in the proportion of four to one, of the
present occupants. " Sir Launcelot Threlkeld, who
lived in the reign of Henry VII. was wont to say, he
had three noble houses, one for pleasure, Crosby, in
Westmoreland, where he had a park full of deer ; one
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 259
for profit and warmth, wherein to reside in winter,
namely, Yariwith, nigh Penrith ; and the third, Threl-
keld (on the edge of the vale of Keswick) well stocked
with tenants to go with him to the wars." But, as I
have said, from the union of the two crowns, this nu-
merous vassalage (their services not being wanted) would
rapidly diminish ; various tenements would be united in
one possessor ; and the aboriginal houses, probably
little better than hovels, like the kraels of savages, or
the huts of the Highlanders of Scotland, would many
of them fall into decay, and wholly disappear, while
the place of others was supplied by substantial and
comfortable buildings, a majority of which remain to
this day scattered over the valleys, and are in many the
only dwellings found in them.
From the time of the erection of these houses, till
within the last fifty years, the state of society, though
no doubt slowly and gradually improving, underwent no
material change. Corn was grown in these vales (through
which no carriage-road had been made) sufficient upon
each estate to furnish bread for each familv, and no
260 DESCRIPTION OF THE
more : notwithstanding the union of several tenements,
the possessions of each inhabitant still being small, in
the same field was seen an intermixture of different
crops ; and the plough was interrupted by little rocks,
mostly overgrown with wood, or by spongy places, which
the tillers of the soil had neither leisure nor capital to
convert into firm land. The storms and moisture of the
climate induced them to sprinkle their upland property
with outhouses of native stone, as places of shelter for
their sheep, where, in tempestuous weather, food was
distributed to them. Every family spun from its own
flock the wool with which it was clothed ; a weaver was
here and there found among them ; and the rest of their
wants were supplied by the produce of the yarn, which
they carded and spun in their own houses, and carried
to market, either under their arms, or more frequently
on pack-horses, a small train taking their way weekly
down the valley or over the mountains to the most com-
modious town. They had, as I have said, their rural
chapel, and of course their minister, in clothing or in
manner of life, in no respect differing from themselves,
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 261
except on the Sabbath-day; this was the sole distin-
guished individual among them ; every thing else, person
and possession, exhibited a perfect equality, a commu-
nity of shepherds and agriculturists, proprietors, for the
most part, of the lands which they occupied and
While the process above detailed was going on, the
native forest must have been every where receding ; but
trees were planted for the sustenance of the flocks in
winter, — such was then the rude state of agriculture ;
and, for the same cause, it was necessary that care should
be taken of some part of the growth of the native forest.
Accordingly, in Queen Elizabeth's time, this was so
strongly felt, that a petition was made to the Crown,
praying, " that the Blomaries in high Furness might be
abolished, on account of the quantity of wood which was
consumed in them for the use of the mines, to the great
detriment of the cattle." But this same cause, about a
hundred years after, produced effects directly contrary
to those which had been deprecated. The re-establish-
262 DESCRIPTION OF THE
ment, at that period, of furnaces upon a large scale,
made it the interest of the people to convert the steeper
and more stony of the enclosures, sprinkled over with
remains of the native forest, into close woods, which,
when cattle and sheep were excluded, rapidly sowed and
thickened themselves. I have already directed the
reader's attention to the cause by which tufts of wood,
pasturage, meadow, and arable land, with its various
produce, are intricately intermingled in the same field,
and he will now see, in like manner, how enclosures
entirely of wood, and those of cultivated ground, are
blended all over the country under a law of similar
An historic detail has thus been given of the manner
in which the hand of man has acted upon the surface of
the inner regions of this mountainous country, as incor-
porated with and subservient to the powers and processes
of nature. We will now take a view of the same agency
acting, within narrower bounds, for the production of the
few works of art and accommodations of life which, in so
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 263
simple a state of society, could be necessary. These
are merely habitations of man and coverts for beasts,
roads and bridges, and places of worship.
And to begin with the Cottages. They are scat-
tered over the valleys, and under the hill sides, and on
the rocks ; and, even to this day, in the more retired dales,
without any intrusion of more assuming buildings.
Clustered like stars some few, but single most,
And lurking dimly in their shy retreats,
Or glancing on each other cheerful looks,
Like separated stars with clouds between.
The dwelling-houses, and contiguous outhouses, are, in
many instances, of the colour of the native rock, out of
which they have been built ; but, frequently the dwelling-
house has been distinguished from the barn and byer by
roughcast and white wash, which, as the inhabitants are
hot hasty in renewing it, in a few years acquires, by the
influence of weather, a tint at once sober and variegated.
As these houses have been from father to son inhabited
by person^ engaged in the same occupations, yet neces-
264? DESCRIPTION OF THE
sarily with changes in their circumstances, they have re-
ceived additions and accommodations adapted to the
needs of each successive occupant, who, being for the
most part proprietor, was at Hberty to follow his own
fancy; so that these humble dwellings remind the con-
templative spectator of a production of nature, and may
(using a strong expression) rather be said to have grown
than to have been erected ; — to have risen by an instinct
of their own out of the native rock i so little is there in
them of formality; such is their wildness and beauty.
Among the numerous recesses and projections in the
walls and in the different stages of their roofs, are seen
the boldest and most harmonious effects of contrasted
sunshine and shadow. It is a favourable circumstance,
that the strong winds, which sweep down the valleys,
induced the inhabitants, at a time when the materials for
building were easily procured, to furnish many of these
dwellings with substantial porches; and such as have
not this defence, are seldom unprovided with a projection
of two large slates over their thresholds. Nor will the
singular beauty of the chimneys escape the eye of the at-
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 265
tentive traveller. Sometimes a low chimney, almost
upon a level with the roof, is overlaid with a slate, sup-
ported upon four slender pillars, to prevent the wind
from driving the smoke down the chimney. Others are
of a quadrangular shape, rising one or two feet above
the roof; which low square is often surmounted by a tall
cylinder, giving to the cottage chimney the most beau-
tiful shape in which it is ever seen. Nor will it be too
fanciful or refined to remark, that there is a pleasing
harmony between a tall chimney of this circular form,
and the living column of smoke, through the still air
ascending from it. These dwellings, as has been said,
are built of rough unhewn stone ; and they are roofed
with slates, which were rudely taken from the quarry
before the present art of splitting them was understood,
and are therefore rough and uneven in their surfaces, so
that both the coverings and sides of the houses have fur-
nished places of rest for the seeds of lichens, mosses,
ferns, and flowers. Hence buildings, which, in their
very form call to mind the processes of nature, do thus,
clothed with this vegetable garb, appear to be received
266 DESCRIPTION OF THE
into the bosom of the living principle of things, as it acts
and exists among the woods and fields; and, by their
colour and their shape, affectingly direct the thoughts to
that tranquil course of nature and simplicity, along which
the humble-minded inhabitants have through so many ge-
nerations been led. Add the little garden with its shed for
bee-hives, its small beds of pot-herbs, and its borders and
patches of flowers for Sunday posies, with sometimes a
choice few too much prized to be plucked ; an orchard
of proportioned size ; a cheese-press, often supported by
some tree near the door ; a cluster of embowering syca-
mores for summer shade ; with a tall Scotch fir, through
which the winds sing when other trees are leafless ;
the little rill or household spout murmuring in all sea-
sons; — combine these incidents and images together,
and you have the representative idea of a mountain-
cottage in this country so beautifully formed in itself,
and so richly adorned by the hand of nature.
Till within the last fifty years there was no commu-
nication between any of these vales by carriage-roads ;
all bulky articles were transported on pack-horses.
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 267
Owing, however, to the population not being concen-
trated in villages but scattered, the valleys themselves
were intersected as now by innumerable lanes and path-
ways leading from house to house and from field to field.
These lanes, where they are fenced by stone walls, are
mostly bordered with ashes, hazels, wild roses, and beds
of tall fern, at their base ; while the walls themselves if
old are overspread with mosses, small ferns, wild straw-
berries, the geranium, and lichens ; and if the wall hap-
pen to rest against a bank of earth, it is sometimes
almost wholly concealed by a rich facing of stone-fern.
It is a great advantage to a traveller or resident, that
these numerous lanes and paths, if he be a zealous ad-
mirer of nature, will introduce him, nay, will lead him
on into all the recesses of the country, so that the hidden
treasures of its landscapes will by an ever-ready guide
be laid open to his eyes.
Likewise to the smallness of the several properties is
owing the great number of bridges over the brooks
and torrents, and the daring and graceful neglect of
danger or accommodation with which so many of them
S68 DESCRIPTION OF THE
are constructed, the rudeness of the forms of some, and
their endless variety. But, when I speak of this rude-
ness, I must at the same time add that many of these
structures are in themselves models of elegance, as if
they had been formed upon principles of the most
thoughtful architecture. It is to be regretted that these
monuments of the skill of our ancestors, and of that
happy instinct by which, consummate beauty was pro-
duced, are disappearing fast; but sufficient specimens
remain to give a high gratification to the man of genuine
taste. Such travellers as may not be accustomed to pay
attention to these things, will excuse me if I point out
the proportion between >the span and elevation of the
arch, the lightness of the parapet, and the graceful
manner in which its curve follows faithfully that of the
Upon this subject I have nothing further to notice,
except the places of worship, which have mostly a little
school-house adjoining. The architecture of these
churches and chapels, where they have not been recently
rebuilt or modernised, is of a style not less appropriate
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 269
and admirable than that of the dwelling-houses and
other structures. How sacred the spirit by which our
forefathers were directed ! The religio loci is no where
outraged by these unstinted, yet unpretending, works
of human hands. They exhibit generally a well-pro-
portioned oblong with a suitable porch, in some instances
a steeple tower, and in others nothing more than a small
belfry in which one or two bells hang visibly. — But
these objects, though pleasing in their forms, must ne-
cessarily, more than others in rural scenery, derive their
interest from the sentiments of piety and reverence for
the modest virtues and simple manners of humble life
with which they may be contemplated. A man must be
very insensible who would not be touched with pleasure
at the sight of the chapel of Buttermere, so strikingly
expressing by its diminutive size how small must be the
congregation there assembled, as it were, like one family ;
and proclaiming at the same time to the passenger, in
connection with the surrounding mountains, the depth of
that seclusion in which the people live that has rendered
necessary the building of a separate place of worship for
270 DESCRIPTION OF THE
so few, A Patriot, calling to mind the images of the
stately fabrics of Canterbury, York, or Westminster,
will find a heart-felt satisfaction in presence of this lowly
pile, as a monument of the wise institutions of our
country, and as evidence of the all-pervading and pater-
nal care of that venerable Establishment of which it is
perhaps the humblest daughter. — The edifice is scarcely
larger than many of the smgle stones or fragments of
rock which are scattered near it.
We have thus far confined our observations on this
division of the subject to that part of these Dales which
runs up far into the mountains. In addition to such
objects as have been hitherto described, it may be men-
tioned that, as we descend towards the open part of the
Vales, we meet with the remains of ancient Parks, and
with old Mansions of more stately architecture ; and it
ma}'^ be observed that to these circumstances the country
owes whatever ornament it retains of, majestic and full-
grown timber, as the remains of the park of the ancient
family of the RatclifFs at Derwent-water, Gowbray-r
park, and the venerable woods of Rydal. Through the
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. , 271
open parts of the vales are scattered, with more spacious
domains attached to them, houses of a middle rank,
between the pastoral cottage and the old hall-residence
of the more wealthy Estaiesma?i.
Thus has been given a faithful description, the mi-
nuteness of which the reader will pardon, of the face of
this country as it was, and had been through centuries,
till within the last fifty years. Towards the head of
these Dales was found a perfect Repubhc of Shepherds
and Agriculturalists, among whom the plough of each
man was confined to the maintenance of his own family,
or to the occasional accommodation of his neighbour.
Two or three cows furnished each family with milk and
cheese. The Chapel was the only edifice that presided
over these dwellings, the supreme head of this pure Com-
monwealth ; the members of which existed in the midst
of a powerful empire, Kke an ideal society or an organised
community, whose constitution had been iaiposed and
regulated by the mountains which protected it. Neither
Knight, nor Esquire, nor high-born Nobleman, was h^re;
but many of these humble sons of the hills had a con-
272 DESCRIPTION OF THE
sciousness that the land, which they walked over and
tilled, had for more than five hundred years been pos-
sessed by men of their name and blood ; — and venerable
was the transition, when a curious traveller, descending
from the heart of the mountains, had come to some
ancient manorial residence in the more open parts of the
Vales, which, through the rights attached to its pro-
prietor, connected the almost visionary mountain Re-
public he had been contemplating with the substantial
frame of society as existing in the laws and constitution
of a mighty empire.
Such, as I have said, was the appearance of things till
within these last fifty years. A practice, by a strange
abuse of terms denominated Ornamental Gardening, was
at that time becoming prevalent over England. In
union with an admiration of this art and in some in-
stances in opposition to it, had been generated a relish
for select parts of natural scenery ; and Travellers instead
of confining their observations to Towns, Manufactories,
or Mines, began (a thing till then unheard of) to wander
over the Island in search of sequestered spots distin-
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 273
guished, as they might accidentally have learned, for the
sublimity or beauty of the forms of Nature there to be
seen. — Dr. Brown, the celebrated Author of the Estimate
of the Manners and Principles of the Times, published
a letter to a Friend in which the attractions of the Vale
of Keswick were delineated with a powerful pencil, and
the feeling of a genuine Enthusiast. Gray the Poet
followed ; he died soon after his forlorn and melancholy
pilgrimage to the Vale of Keswick, and the record left
behind him of what he had seen and felt in this journey
excited that pensive interest with which the human mind
is ever disposed to listen to the farewell words of a Man
of genius . The journal of Gray feelingly showed how the
gloom of ill health and low spirits had been irradiated
by objects, which the Author's powers of mind enabled
him to describe with distinctness and unaffected simpli-
city. Every reader of this journalmusthavebeenimpressed
with the words that conclude his notice of the Vale of
Grasmere — " Not a single red tile, no flaring gentle-
man's house or garden-wall, breaks in upon the repose
of this little unsuspected paradise; but all is peace,
274 DESCRIPTION OF THE
rusticity, and happy poverty in its neatest and most
What is here so justly said of Grasmere applied
almost equally to all its sister Vales. It was well for
the undisturbed pleasure of the Poet that he had no
forebodings of the change which was soon to take place ;
and it might have been hoped that these words, indi-
cating how much the charm of what was, depended upon
what was not, would of themselves have preserved the
ancient franchises of this and other kindred mountain
retirements from trespass ; or, (shall I dare to say ?)
would have secured scenes so consecrated from profan-
ation. The lakes had now become celebrated ; visitors
flocked hither from all parts of England ; the fancies
of some were smitten so deeply, that they became set-
tlers ; and the Islands of Derwent- water and Winander-
mere, as they offered the strongest temptation, were the
first places seized upon, and were instantly defaced by
The venerable wood that had grown for centuries
round the small house called St. Herbert's Hermitage,
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 275
had indeed some years before been felled by its native
proprietor, and the whole island had been planted
anew with Scotch firs left to spindle up by each other's
side — a melancholy phalanx, defying the power of the
winds, and disregarding the regret of the spectator, who
might otherwise have cheated himself into a belief, that
some of the decayed remains of those oaks, the place of
which is in this manner usurped, had been planted by
the Hermit's own hand. Comparatively, however, this
sainted spot suffered little injury. The Hind's Cottage
upon Vicar's island, in the same lake, with its embower-
ing sycamores and cattle shed, disappeared, at the bid-
ding of an alien improver, from the corner where they
had stood ; and right in the middle, and upon the precise
point of the island's highest elevation, rose a tall square
habitation, with four sides exposed, like an observatory,
or a warren-house reared upon an eminence for the de-
tection of depredators, or, like the temple of QEolus,
where all the winds pay him obeisance. Round this
novel structure, but at respectful distance, platoons of
firs were stationed, as if to protect their commander when
weather and time should somewhat have shattered his
276 DESCRIPTION OF THE
strength. Within the narrow limits of this island were
typified also the state and strength of a kingdom, and its
religion as it had been and was, — for neither was the
druidical circle uncreated, nor the church of the present
establishment ; nor the stately pier, emblem of commerce
and navigation ; nor the fort, to deal out thunder upon
the approaching invader. The taste of a succeeding
proprietor rectified the mistakes as far as was practicable,
and has ridded the spot of all its puerilities. The
church, after having been docked of its steeple, is ap-
plied, both ostensibly and really, to the purpose for which
the body of the pile was actually erected, namely, a boat-
house ; the fort is demolished, and, without indignation
on the part of the spirits of the ancient Druids who offi-
ciated at the circle upon the opposite hill, the mimic ar-
ranirement of stones, with its sanctum sanctorum, has
been swept away.
The present instance has been singled out, extravagant
as it is, because, unquestionably, this beautiful country has,
in numerous other places, suffered from the same spirit,
though not clothed exactly in the same form, nor active in
an equal degree. It will be sufficient here to utter a regret
- COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 277
for the changes that have been made upon the principal
Island at Winandermere, and in its neighbourhood. What
could be more unfortunate than the taste that suggested the
paring of the shores, and surrounding with an embankment
this spot of ground, the natural shape of which was so
beautiful ! An artificial appearance has thus been given to
the whole, while infinite varieties of minute beauty have
been destroyed. Could not the margin of this noble
island be given back to nature ? Winds and waves
work with a careless and graceful hand ; and, should
they in some places carry away a portion of the soil, the
trifling loss would be amply compensated by the addi-
tional spirit, dignity, and loveliness, which these agents
and the other powers of nature would soon communicate
to what was left behind. As to the larch-plantations
upon the main shore, — they who remember the original
appearance of the rocky steeps scattered over with native
hollies and ash-trees, will be prepared to agree with
what I shall have to say hereafter upon plantations in
But, in truth, no one can now travel through the more
278 DESCRIPTION OF THE
frequented tracts, without being oiFended at almost every
turn by an intioduction of discordant objects, disturbing
that peaceful harmony of form and colour which had
been through a long lapse of ages most happily pre-
All gross transgressions of this kind originate, doubt-
less, in a feeling natural and honourable to the human
mind, viz. the pleasure which it receives from distinct
ideas, and from the perception of order, regularity, and
contrivance. Now, unpractised minds receive these
impressions only from objects that are divided from
each other by strong lines of demarcation ; hence the
delight with which such minds are smitten by formality
and harsh contrast. But I would beg of those who
are eager to create the means of such gratification,
first carefully to study what already exists; and they
will find, in a country so lavishly gifted by nature, an
abundant variety of forms marked out with a precision
that will satisfy their desires. Moreover, a new habit
of pleasure will be formed opposite to this, arising out
of the perception of the fine gradations by which in
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 279
nature one thing passes away into another, and the
boundaries that constitute individuality, disappear in
olie instance, only to be revived elsewhere under a more
alluring Torm. The hill of Dunmallet, at the foot of
Ulswater, was once divided into different portions, by
avenues of fir-trees, with a green and almost perpendi-
cular lane descending down the steep hill through each
avenue ; — contrast this quaint appearance with the image
of the same hill overgrown with self-planted wood, —
each tree springing up in the situation best suited to
its kind, and with that shape which the situation con-
strained or suffered it to take. What endless melting
and playing into each other of forms and colours does
the one offer to a mind at once attentive and active ;
and how insipid and lifeless, compared with it, appear
those parts of the former exhibition with which a child,
a peasant perhaps, or a citizen unfamiliar with natural
imagery, would have been most delighted !
I cannot, however, omit observing, that the disfigure-
ment which this country has undergone, has not pro-
ceeded wholly from those common feelings of human
280 DESCRIPTION OF THE
nature which have been referred to as the primary sources
of bad taste in rural scenery; another cause must
be added, which has chiefly shown itself in its effect
upon buildings. I mean 'a warping of the natural
mind occasioned by a consciousness that, this country
being an object of general admiration, every new house
would be looked at and commented upon either for
approbation or censure. Hence all the deformity and
ungracefulness that ever pursue the steps of constraint
or affectation. Men, who in Leicestershire or North-
amptonshire would probably have built a modest dwell-
ing like those of their sensible neighbours, have been
turned out of their course ; and, acting a part, no won-
der if, having had little experience, they act it ill. The
craving for prospect also, which is immoderate, parti-
cularly in new settlers, has rendered it impossible that
buildings, whatever might have been their architecture,
should in most instances be ornamental to the landscape ;
rising as they do from the summits of naked hills in
staring contrast to the snugness and privacy of the an-
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 281
No man is to be condemned for a desire to decorate
his residence and possessions ; feeling a disposition to
applaud such an endeavour, I would show how the end may
be best attained. The rule is simple ; with respect to
grounds — work, where you can, in the spirit of nature
with an invisible hand of art. Planting, and a removal
of wood, may thus and thus only be carried on with
good effect ; and the like may be said of building, if An-
tiquity, who may be styled the co-partner and sister of
Nature, be not denied the respect to which she is entitled.
I have already spoken of the beautiful forms of the an-
cient mansions of this country, and of the happy manner
in which they harmonise with the forms of nature. Why
cannot these be taken as a model, and modern internal
convenience be confined within their external grace and
dignity ? Expense to be avoided, or difficulties to be
overcome, may prevent a close adherence to this model ;
still, however, it might be followed to a certain degree
in the style of architecture and in the choice of situation,
if the thirst for prospect were mitigated by those con-
siderations of comfort, shelter, and convenience, which
282 DESCRIPTION OF THE
used to be chiefly sought after. But, should an aversion
to old fashions unfortunately exist, accompanied with a
desire to transplant into the cold and stormy North, the
elegancies of a villa formed upon a model taken from
countries with a milder climate, I will adduce a passage
from an English poet, the divine Spenser, which will
show in what manner such a plan may be realised with-
out injury to the native beauty of these scenes.
<* Into that forest farre they thence him led,
Where was their dwelling in a pleasant glade
With MOUNTAINS round about environed,
And MIGHTY WOODS which did the valley shade,
And like a stately theatre it made,
Spreading itself into a spacious plaine ;
And in the midst a little river plaide
Emongst the pumy stones which seem'd to 'plaine
With gentle murmure that his course they did restrains
Beside the same a dainty place there lay,
Planted with mirtle trees and laurels green,
In which the birds sang many a lovely lay
Of God's high praise, and of their sweet loves teene,
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 283
As it an earthly paradise had beene ;
In whose enclosed shadotv there was pight
A fair pavilion, scarcely to be seen.
The which was all within most richly dight,
That greatest princes living it mote well delight."
Houses or mansions suited to a mountainous region,
should be " not obvious, nor obtrusive, but retired ;"
and the reasons for this rule, though they have been
little adverted to, are evident. Mountainous coun-
tries, more frequently and forcibly than others, remind
us of the power of the elements, as manifested in winds,
snows, and torrents, and accordingly make the notion
of exposure very unpleasing ; while shelter and comfort
are in proportion necessary and acceptable. Far-winding
valleys difficult of access, and the feelings of simplicity
habitually connected with mountain retirements, prompt
us to turn from ostentation as a thing there eminently
unnatural and out of place. A mansion, amid such
scenes, can never have sufficient dignity or interest to
become principal in the landscape, and render the moun-
tains, lakes, or torrents by which it may be surrounded.
284< DESCRIPTION OF THE
a subordinate part of the view. It is, I grant, easy to
conceive, that an ancient castellated building, hanging
over a precipice or raised upon an island, or the peninsula
of a lake, like that of Kilchurn Castle, upon Loch Awe,
may not want, whether deserted or inhabited, sufficient
majesty to preside for a moment in the spectator's thoughts
over the high mountains among which it is embosomed ;
but its titles are from antiquity — a power readily sub-
mitted to upon occasion as the vicegerent of Nature: it
is respected, as having owed its existence to the neces-
sities of things, as a monument of security in times of
disturbance and danger long passed-away, — as a record
of the pomp and violence of piassion, and a symbol of
the wisdom of law ; — it bears a countenance of autho-
rity, which is not impaired by decay.
" Child of loud-throated war^ the mountain-stream
Roars in thy heari'ng ; but thy hour of rest
Is come, and thou art silent in thy age !" MS.
To such honours a modern edifice can lay no claim ; and
the puny efforts of elegance appear contemptible, when,
in such situations, they are obtruded in rivalship with
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 285
the sublimities of Nature. But, towards the verge of
a district like this of which we are treating, where the
mountains subside into hills of moderate elevation, or
in an undulating or flat country, a gentleman's mansion
may, with propriety, become a principal feature in the
landscape; and, itself being a work of art, works and
traces of artificial ornament may, without censure, be
extended around it, as they will be referred to the
common centre, the house ; the right of which to im-
press within certain limits a character of obvious orna-
ment will not be denied, where no commanding forms of
nature dispute it, or set it aside. Now, to a want of the
perception of this difference, and to the causes before
assigned, may chiefly be attributed the disfigurement
which the Country of the Lakes has undergone, from
persons who may have built, demolished, and planted,
with full confidence, that every change and addition was
or would become an improvement.
The principle that ought to determine the position,
apparent size, and architecture of a house, viz. that it
should be so constructed, and (if large) so much of it
286 DESCRIPTION OF THE
hidden, as to admit of its being gently incorporated into
the scenery of nature — should also determine its colour.
Sir Joshua Reynolds used to say, " if you would fix
upon the best colour for your house, turn up a stone,
or pluck up a handful of grass by the roots, and see
what is the colour of the soil where the house is to stand,
and let that be your choice." Of course, this precept,
my en in conversation, could not have been meant to be
taken literally. For example, in Low Furness, where
the soil, from its strong impregnation with iron, is uni-
versally of a deep red, if this rule were strictly followed,
the house also must be of a glaring red ; in other places
it must be of a sullen black ; which would only be adding
annoyance to annoyance. The rule, however, as a ge-
neral guide, is good; and, in agricultural districts,
where large tracts of soil are laid bare by the plough,
particularly if (the face of the country being undulating)
they are held up to view, this rule, though not to be im-
plicitly adhered to, should never be lost sight of; — the
colour of the house ought, if possible, to have a cast or
shade of the colour of the soil. The principle is, that
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 287
the house must harmonise with the surrounding land-
scape: accordingly, in mountainous countries, with still
more confidence may it be said, " look at the rocks and
those parts of the mountains where the soil is visible, and
they will furnish a safe direction." Nevertheless, it will
often happen that the rocks may bear so large a propor-
tion to the rest of the landscape, and may be of such a
tone of colour, that the rule may not admit even here
of being implicitly followed. For instance, the chief
defect in the colouring of the Country of the Lakes,
(which is most strongly felt in the summer season) is an
over-prevalence of a bluish tint, which the green of the
herbage, the fern, and the woods, does not sufficiently
counteract. If a house, therefore, should stand where
this defect prevails, I have no hesitation in saying, that
the colour of the neighbouring rocks would not be the
best that could be chosen. A tint ought to be introduced
approaching nearer to those which, in the technical lan-
guage of painters, are called warm: this, if happily
selected, would not disturb but would animate the land-
scape. How often do we see this exemplified upon a
288 DESCRIPTION OF THE
small scale by the native cottages, in cases where the
glare of white- wash has been subdued by time and en-
riched by weather-stains ! No harshness is then seen ;
but one of these cottages, thus coloured, will often form a
central point to a landscape by which the whole shall be
connected, and an influence of pleasure diffused over all
the objects that compose the picture. But where the
cold blue tint of the rocks is enriched by the iron tinge,
the colour cannot be too closely imitated ; and it will be
produced of itself by the stones hewn from the adjoining
quarry, and by the mortar, which may be tempered with
the most gravelly part of the soil. The pure blue gravel,
from the bed of the river, is, however, more suitable to
the mason's purpose, who will probably insist also that
the house must be covered with rough-cast, otherwise it
cannot be kept dry ; if this advice be taken, the builder
of taste will set about contriving such means as may
enable him to come the nearest to the effect aimed at.
The supposed necessity of rough-cast to keep out rain
in houses not built of hewn stone or brick, has tended
greatly to injure English landscape, and the neighbour-
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 289
hood of these Lakes especially, by furnishing such apt
occasion for whitening buildings. That white should be
a favourite colour for rural residences is natural for many
reasons. The mere aspect of cleanliness and neatness
thus given, not only to an individual house, but, where
the practice is general, to the whole face of the country,
produces moral associations so powerful, that, in the
minds of many, they take place of every other relating
to such objects. But what has already been said upon
the subject of cottages, must have convinced men of
feeling and imagination, that a human habitation of the
humblest class may be rendered more deeply interesting
to the affections, and far more pleasing to the eye, by
other influences than a sprightly tone of colour spread
over its outside. I do not, however, mean to deny, that
a small white building, embowered in trees, may, in
some situations, be a delightful and animating object —
in no way injurious to the landscape; but this only,
where it sparkles from the midst of a thick shade, and
in rare and solitary instances ; especially if the country
be itself rich, and pleasing, and full of grand forms. On
^90 DESCRIPTION OF THE
the sides of bleak and desolate moors, we are indeed
thankful for the sight of white cottages and white houses
plentifully scattered, where, without these, perhaps every
thing would be cheerless : this is said, however, with
hesitation, and with a wilful sacrifice of some higher] enjoy-
ments. But I have certainly seen such buildings glitter-
ing at sunrise, and in wandering lights, with no common
pleasure. The continental traveller also will remember,
that the convents hanging from the rocks of the Rhine,
the Rhone, the Danube, or among the Appenines or the
mountains of Spain, are not looked at with less com-
placency when, as is often the case, they happen to be
of a brilliant white. But this is perhaps owing, in no
small degree, to the contrast of that lively colour with
the gloom of monastic life, and to the general want of
rural residences of smiling and attractive appearance, in
The objections to white, as a colour, in large spots
or masses in landscapes, especially in a mountainous
"country, are insurmountable. In nature, pure white is
scarcely ever found but in small objects, such as
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 291
flowers ; or in those which are transitory, as the clouds,
foam of rivers, and snow. Mr. Gilpin, who notices
this, has also recorded the just remark of Mr. Locke,
of N , that white destroys the gradations of dis-
tance ; and, therefore, an object of pure white can
scarcely ever be managed with good effect in landscape-
painting. Five or six white houses, scattered over a
valley, by their obtrusiveness, dot the surface, and di-
vide it into triangles, or other mathematical figures,
haunting the eye, and disturbing that repose which
might otherwise be perfect. I have seen a single white
house materially impair the majesty of a mountains-
cutting away, by a harsh separation, the whole of its
base, below the point on which the house stood. Thus
was the apparent size of the mountain reduced, not by
the interposition of another object in a manner to call
forth the imagination, which will give more than the
eye loses ; but what had been abstracted in this case
was left visible ; and the mountain appeared to take its
beginning, or to rise from the line of the house, instead
of its own natural base. But, if I may express my own
292 DESCRIPTION OF THE
individual feeling, it is after sunset, at the coming on
of twilight, that white objects are most to be complained
of. The solemnity and quietness of nature at that time
are always marred, and often destroyed by them. When
the ground is covered with snow, they are of course
inoffensive ; and in moonshine they are always pleasing
— it is a tone of light with which they accord ; and the
dimness of the scene is enlivened by an object at once
conspicuous and cheerful. I will conclude this subject
with noticing, that the cold, slaty colour, which many
persons, who have heard the white condemned, have
adopted in its stead, must be disapproved of for the
reason already given. The flaring yellow runs into
the opposite extreme, and is still more censurable.
Upon the whole, the safest colour, for general use, is
something between a cream and a dust-colour, commonly
called stone-colour ; — there are, among the Lakes, ex-
amples of this that need not be pointed out.
The principle taken as our guide, viz. that the house
should be so formed, and of such apparent size and
colour, as to admit of its being gently incorporated with
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 293
the scenery of nature, should also be applied to the
management of the grounds and plantations, and is
here more urgently needed ; for it is from abuses in this
department, far more even than from the introduction
of exotics in architecture (if the phrase may be used)
that this country has suffered. Larch and fir plant-
ations have been spread every where, not merely with a
view to profit, but in many instances for the sake
of ornament. To those who plant for profit, and are
thrusting every other tree out of the way to make room
for their favourite, the larch, I would utter first a regret
that they should have selected these lovely vales for
their vegetable manufactory, when there is so much
barren and irreclaimable land in the neighbouring moors,
and in other parts of the Island, which might have been
had for this purpose at a far cheaper rate. And I
will also beg leave to represent to them, that they ought
not to be carried away by flattering promises from the
speedy growth of this tree ; because, in rich soils and
sheltered situations, the wood, though it thrives fast, is
full of sap, and of little value ; and is, likewise, very
294 DESCRIPTION OF THE
subject to ravage from the attacks of insects, and from
blight. Accordingly, in Scotland, where planting is
much better understood, and carried on upon an in-
comparably larger scale than among us, good soil and
sheltered situations are appropriated to the oak, the
ash, and other deciduous trees ; and the larch is now
generally confined to barren and exposed ground. There
the plant, which is a hardy one, is of slower growth ;
much less liable to injury ; and the timber is of better
quality. But there are many, whose circumstances
permit them, and whose taste leads them, to plant with
little regard to profit ; and others, less wealthy, who
have such a lively feeling of the native beauty of these
scenes, that they are laudably not unwilling to make
some sacrifices to heighten it. Both these classes of
persons, I would entreat to enquire of themselves
wherein that beauty which they admire consists. They
would then see that, after the feeling has been gratified
that prompts us to gather round our dwelling a few
flowers and shrubs, which, from the circumstance of
their not being native, may, by their very looks,
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 295
remind us that they owe their existence to our hands,
and their prosperity to our care ; they will see that, after
this natural desire has been provided for, the course of
all beyond has been predetermined by the spirit of the
place. Before I proceed with this subject, I will pre-
pare my way with a remark of general application,
by reminding those who are not satisfied with the
restraint thus laid upon them, that they are liable to a
charge of inconsistency, when they are so eager to
change the face of that country, whose native attractions,
by the act of erecting their habitations in it, they have
so emphatically acknowledged. And surely there is not
in this country a single spot that would not have, if well
managed, sufficient dignity to support itself, unaided by
the productions of other climates, or by elaborate de-
corations which might be becoming elsewhere.
But to return; — having adverted to the considerations
that justify the introduction of a few exotic plants, pro-
vided they be confined almost to the doors of the house,
we may add, that a transition should be contrived with-
out abruptness, from these foreigners to the rest of the
296 DESCRIPTION OF THE
shrubs, which ought to be of the kinds scattered by
Nature through the woods — holly, broom, wild-rose,
elder, dogberry, white and black thorn, &c. either
these only, or such as are carefully selected in conse-
quence of their uniting in form, and harmonising in
colour with them, especially with respect to colour,
when the tints are most diversified, as in autumn and
spring. The various sorts of fruit-and-blossom-bearing
trees usually found in orchards, to which may be added
those of the woods, — namely, the wilding, black cherry
tree, and wild cluster-cherry (here called heck-berry),
may be happily admitted as an intermediate link between
the shrubs and the forest trees ; which last ought almost
entirely to be such as are natives of the country. Of
the birch, one of the most beautiful of the native trees,
it may be noticed, that, in dry and rocky situations, it
outstrips even the larch, which many persons are tempted
to plant merely on account of the speed of its growth.
Sycamore, and the Scotch fir (which, when it has room
to spread out its arms, is a noble tree) may be placed
with advantage near the house ; for, from their massiver
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 297
ness, they unite well with buildings, and in some situa-
tions with rocks also; having, in their forms and apparent
substances, the effect of something intermediate betwixt
the immoveableness and solidity of stone, and the sprays
and foliage of the lighter trees. If these general rules be
just, what shall we say to whole acres of artificial
shrubbery and exotic trees among rocks and dashing
torrents, with their own wild wood in sight — where
we have the whole contents of the nurseryman's cata-
logue jumbled together — colour at war with colour,
and form with form — among the most peaceful subjects
of Nature's kingdom every where discord, distraction,
and bewilderment ! But this deformity, bad as it is, is
not so obtrusive as the small patches and large tracts of
larch plantations that are over-running the hill-sides.
To justify our condemnation of these, let us again recur
to Nature. The process, by which she forms woods
and forests, is as follows. Seeds are scattered indiscri-
minately by winds, brought by waters, and dropped by
birds. They perish, or produce, according as the soil
upon which they fall is suited to them ; and under the
298 DESCRIPTION OF THE
same dependence, the seedling or sucker, if not cropped
by animals, thrives, and the tree grows, sometimes
single, taking its own shape without constraint, but for
the most part being compelled to conform itself to some
law imposed upon it by its neighbours. ■ From low and
sheltered places, vegetation travels upwards to the more
exposed ; and the young plants are protected, and to a
certain degree fashioned, by those that have preceded
them. The continuous mass of foliage which would be
thus produced, is broken by rocks, or by glades or open
places, where the browzing of animals has prevented
the growth of wood. As vegetation ascends, the winds
begin also to bear their part in moulding the forms of
the trees ; but, thus mutually protected, trees, though
not of the hardiest kind, are enabled to climb high up
the mountains. Gradually, however, by the quality of
the ground, and by increasing exposure, a stop is put to
their ascent ; the hardy trees only are left ; these also,
by little and little, give way, -—and a wild and irregular
boundary is esta-blished, graceful in its outline, and
never contemplated without some feeling more or
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 299
less distinct of the powers of nature by which it is
Contrast the liberty that encourages, and the law that
limits, this joint work of nature and time, with the dis-
heartening necessities, restrictions, and disadvantages,
under which the artificial planter must proceed, even he
whom long observation and fine feeling have best quali-
fied for his task. In the first place his trees, however
well chosen and adapted to their several situations, must
generally ail start at the same time ; and this circum-
stance would of itself prevent that fine connection of
parts, that sympathy and organization, if I may so ex-
press myself, which pervades the whole of a natural
wood, and appears to the eye in its single trees, its
masses of foliage, and their various colours when they
are held up to view on the side of a mountain; or,
when spread over a valley, they are looked down upon
from an eminence. It is then impossible, under any cir-
cumstances, for the artificial planter to rival the beauty
of nature. But a moment's thought will show that, if
ten thousand of this spiky tree, the larch, are stuck in at
300 DESCRIPTION OF THE
once upon the side of a hill, they can grow up into no-
thing but deformity ; that, while they are suffered to
stand, we shall look in vain for any of those appearances
which are the chief sources of beauty in a natural
It must be acknowledged that the larch, till it has
outgrown the size of a shrub, shows, when looked at
singly, some elegance in its form and appearance, es-
pecially in spring, decorated, as it then is, by the
pink tassels of its blossoms ; but, as a tree, it is less
than any other pleasing ; its branches (for boughs it has
none) have no variety in the youth of the tree, and little
dignity even when it attains its full growth ; leaves it
cannot be said to have, consequently neither affords
shade nor shelter. In spring it becomes green long be-
fore the native trees ; and its green is so peculiar and
vivid that, finding nothing to harmonise with it, wherever
it comes forth, a disagreeable speck is produced. In
summer, when all other trees are in their pride, it is of
a dingy lifeless hue ; in autumn of a spiritless imvaried
yellow, and in winter it is still more lamentably distin-
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 301
guished from every other deciduous tree of the forest,
for they seem only to sleep, but the larch appears abso-
lutely dead. If an attempt be made to mingle thickets,
or a certain proportion of other forest-trees, with the
larch, its horizontal branches intolerantly cut them down
as with a scythe, or force them to spindle up to keep
pace with it. The spike, in which it terminates, ren-
ders it impossible, when it is planted in numbers,
that the several trees should ever blend together so
as to form a mass or masses of wood. Add thousands
to tens of thousands, and the appearance is still the
same — a collection of separate individual trees, ob-
stinately presenting themselves as such ; and which,
from whatever point they are looked at, if but seen, may
be counted upon the fingers. Sunshine, or shadow, has
little power to adorn the surface of such a wood; and
the trees not carrying up their heads, the wind raises
among them no majestic undulations. It is indeed
true, that, in countries where the larch is a native, and
where without interruption it may sweep from valley to
valley and from hill to hill, a sublime image may be
302 DESCRIPTION OF THE
produced by such a forest, in the same manner as by
one composed of any other single tree, to the spreading
of which no Hmits can be assigned. For sublimity will
never be wanting, where the sense of innumerable mul-
titude is lost in, and alternates with, that of intense
unity ; and to the ready perception of this effect, si-
milarity and almost identity of individual form and
monotony of colour contribute. But this feeling is
confined to the native immeasurable forest; no artifi-
cial plantation can give it.
The foregoing observations will, I hope, (as nothing
has been condemned or recommended without a sub-
stantial reason) have some influence upon those who
plant for ornam^ent merely. To those who plant for
profit, I have already spoken. Let me then entreat
that the native deciduous trees may be left in com-
plete possession of the lower ground ; and that plant-
ations of larch, if introduced at all, may be confined
to the highest and most barren tracts. Interposition
of rocks would there break the dreary uniformity of
which we have been complaining; and the winds would
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 303
take hold of the trees, and imprint upon their shapes a
wildness congenial to their situation.
Having determined what kinds of trees must be wholly
rejected, or at least very sparingly used, by those who
are unwilling to disfigure the country ; and having shown
what kinds ought to be chosen; I should have given,
if I had not already overstepped my limits, a few prac-
tical rules for the manner in which trees ought to be
disposed in planting. But to this subject I should at-
tach little importance, if I could succeed in banishing
such trees as introduce deformity, and could prevail
upon the proprietor to confine himself either to those
found in the native woods, -or to such as accord with
them. This is indeed the main point; for, much as
these scenes have been injured by what has been taken
from them — buildings, trees, and woods, either through
negligence, necessity, avarice, or caprice — it is not
these removals, but the harsh additions that have been
made, which are the worst grievance — a standing and
unavoidable annoyance. Often have I felt this distinc-
tion with mingled satisfaction and regret ; for, if no po-
S04 DESCRIPTION OF THE
sitive deformity or discordance be substituted or super-
induced, such is the benignity of nature that, take
away from her beauty after beauty, and ornament after
ornament, her appearance cannot be marred ; — the
scars, if any be left, will gradually disappear before a
healing spirit ; and what remains will still be soothing
and pleasing. —
" Many hearts deplored
The fate of those old trees ; and oft with pain
The traveller at this day will stop and gaze
On wrongs which nature scarcely seems to heed :
For sheltered places, bosoms, nooks, and bays,
And the pure mountains, and the gentle Tweed,
And the green silent pastures yet remain."
There are few ancient woods left in this part of Eng-
land upon which such indiscriminate ravage as is here
" deplored" could now be committed. But, out of the
numerous copses, fine woods might in time be raised,
probably without any sacrifice of profit, by leaving, at
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 305
the periodical fellings, a due proportion of the healthiest
trees to grow up into timber. — This plan has fortu-
nately, in many instances, been adopted; and they,
who have set the example, are entitled to the thanks
of all persons of taste. As to the management of
planting with reasonable attention to ornament, let the
images of nature be your guide, and the whole secret
lurks in a few words ; thickets or underwoods - — single
trees — trees clustered or in groups — groves — un-
broken woods, but with varied masses of foliage —
glades — invisible or winding boundaries — in rocky
districts, a seemly proportion of rock left wholly bare,
and other parts half hidden -— disagreeable objects con-
cealed, and formal lines broken — trees climbing up to
the horizon, and in some places ascending from its sharp
edge in which they are rooted, with the whole body of
the tree appearing to stand in the clear sky — in other
parts woods surmounted by rocks utterly bare and na-
ked, which add to the sense of height as if vegetation
could not thither be carried, and impress a feeling of
duration, power of resistance, and security from change !
306 DESCRIPTION OF THE
I have been induced to speak thus at length with a
wish to preserve the native beauty of this delightful dis-
trict, because still farther changes in its appearance must
inevitably follow, from the change of inhabitants and
owners which is rapidly taking place. — About the same
time that strangers began to be attracted to the country,
and to feel a wish to settle in it, the difficulty, that
would have stood in the way of their procuring situ-
ations, was lessened by an unfortunate alteration in the
circumstances of the native peasantry, proceeding from
a cause which then began to operate, and is now felt in
every house. The family of each man, whether estates-
man or farmer, formerly had a twofold support; first
the produce of his lands and flocks ; and secondly, the
profit drawn from the employment of the women and
children, as manufacturers ; spinning their own wool in
their own houses, (work chiefly done in the winter sea-
son,) and carrying it to market for sale. Hence, how-
ever numerous the children, the income of the family
kept pace with its increase. But, by the invention and
universal application of machinery, this second re-
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 307
source has been wholly cut off; the gains being so far
reduced, as not to be sought after but by a few aged
persons disabled from other employment. Doubtless,
the invention of machinery has not been to these people
a pure loss ; for the profits arising from home-manufac-
tures operated as a strong temptation to choose that
mode of labour in neglect of husbandry. They also
participate in the general benefit which the island has
derived from the increased value of the produce of land,
brought about by the establishment of manufactories,
and in the consequent quickening of agricultural indus-
try. But this is far from making them amends; and
now that home-manufactures are nearly done awav,
though the women and children might at many seasons
of the year employ themselves with advantage in the
fields beyond what they are accustomed to do, yet still
all possible exertion in this way cannot be rationally ex-
pected from persons whose agricultural knowledge is so
confined, and above all where there must necessarily be
so small a capital. The consequence, then, is — that,
farmers being no longer able to maintain themselves
308 DESCRIPTION OF THE
upon small farms, several are united in one, and the
buildings go to decay, or are destroyed ; and that the
lands of the estatesmen being mortgaged and the owners
constrained to part with them, they fall into the hands
of wealthy purchasers, who in like manner unite and con-
solidate ; and, if they wish to become residents, erect
new mansions out of the ruins of the ancient cottages,
whose little enclosures, with all the wild graces that grew
out of them, disappear. The feudal tenure under which
the estates are held has indeed done something towards
checking this influx of new settlers ; but so strong is
the inclination that these galling restraints are endured ;
and it is probable that in a few years the country on the
margin of the Lakes will fall almost entirely into the
possession of Gentry, either strangers or natives. It is
then much to be wished, that a better taste should
prevail among these new proprietors; and, as they
cannot be expected to leave things to themselves, that
skill and knowledge should prevent unnecessary devi-
ations from that path of simplicity and beauty along
which, without design and unconsciously, their humble
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 309
predecessors have moved. In this wish the author
will be joined by persons of pure taste throughout
the whole Island, who, by their visits (often repeated) to
the Lakes in the North of England, testify that they
deem the district a sort of national property, in which
every man has a right and interest who has an eye to
perceive and u heart to enjoy.
310 DESCRIPTION OF THE
A FEW words may not improperly be annexed, with
an especial view to promote the enjoyment of the Tourist.
And first, in respect to the Time when this Country can
be seen to most advantage. Mr. West, in his well-
known Guide to the Lakes, recommends the interval
from the beginning of June to the end of August ; and,
the two latter months being a season of vacation and
leisure, it is almost exclusively in these that strangers
visit the Country. But that season is by no means the
best; there is a want of variety in the colouring of the
mountains and woods; which, unless where they are
diversified by rocks, are of a monotonous green ; and,
as a large portion of the Valleys is allotted to hay-grass,
a want of variety is found there also. The meadows,
however, are sufficiently enlivened after hay-making
begins, which is much later than in the southern part
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 31 1
of the Island. A stronger objection is^rainy weather,
setting in often at this period with a vigour, and con-
tinning with a perseverance, that may remind the dis-
appointed and dejected traveller of those deluges of rain,
which fall among the Abyssinian Mountains for the
annual supply of the Nile. Tlie months of September
and October (particularly October) are generally at-
tended with much finer weather ; and the scenery is then,
beyond comparison, more diversified, more splendid,
and beautiful ; but, on the other hand, short days pre-
vent long excursions, and sharp and chill gales are un-
favourable to parties of pleasure out of doors. Never-
theless, to the sincere admirer of Nature, who is in good
health and spirits, and at liberty to make a choice, the
six weeks following the 1st of September may be re-
commended in preference to July and August. For
there is no inconvenience arising from the season which,
to such a person, would not be amply recompensed by
the Autumnal appearance of any of the more retired
Valleys, into which discordant plantation, and unsuitable
buildings have not yet found entrance. -— In such spots,
312. DESCRIPTION OF THE
at this season, there is an admirable compass and pro-
portion of natural harmony in form and colour, through
the whole scale of objects ; — in the tender green of the
after-grass upon the meadows interspersed with islands of
grey or mossy rock crowned by shrubs and trees ; in the
irregular inclosures of standing corn or stubble-fields in
like manner broken ; in the mountain sides glowing with
fern of divers colours ; in the calm blue Lakes and
River-pools ; and in the foliage of the trees, through all
the tints of Autumn, from the pale and brilliant yellow
of the birch and ash, to the deep greens of the unfaded
oak and alder, and of the ivy upon the rocks, upon the
trees, and the cottages. Yet, as most travellers are
either stinted or stint themselves for time, I would re-
commend the space between the middle or last week in
May and the middle or last week of June, as affording
the best combination of long days, fine weather, and
variety of impressions. Few of the native trees are
then in full leaf; but, for whatever may be wanting in
depth of shade, far more than an equivalent will be found
in the diversity of foliage, in the blossoms of the fi'uit-
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 313
and-berry-bearing trees which abound in the woods,
and in the golden flowers of the broom and other
shrubs, with which many of the copses are interveined.
In those woods, also, and on those mountain-sides
which have a northern aspect, and in the deep dells,
many of the spring-flowers still linger ; while the open
and sunny places are stocked with the flowers of ap-
proaching summer. And, besides, is not an exquisite
pleasure still untasted by him who has not heard the
choir of I^innets and Thrushes chaunting their love-
songs in the copses, woods, and hedge-rows, of a moun-
tainous country; safe from the birds of prey, which
build in the inaccessible crags, and are at all hours seen
or heard wheeling about in the air ? The number of
those formidable creatures is probably the cause why,
in the narrow valleys, there are no Sky-larks ; as the
Destroyer would be enabled to dart upon them from the
near and surrounding crags, before they could descend
to their ground-nests for protection. It is not often
that Nightingales resort to these Vales ; but almost all
the other tribes of our English warblers are numerous ;
814? DESCRIPTION OF THE
and their notes, when listened to by the side of broad
still waters, or when heard in unison with the murmur-
ing of mountain-brooks, have the compass of their power
enlarged accordingly. There is also an imaginative
influence in the voice of the Cuckoo, when that voice has
taken possession of a deep mountain valley, very differ-
ent from any thing which can be excited by the same
sound in a flat country. Nor must a circumstance be
omitted which here renders the close of Spring especially
interesting; I mean the practice of bringing down the
ewes from the mountains to yean in the valleys and
enclosed grounds. The herbage being thus cropped as
it springs, that flrst tender emerald green of the season,
which would otherwise have lasted little more than a
fortnight, is prolonged in the pastures and meadows for
many weeks ; while they are farther enlivened by the
multitude of lambs bleating and skipping about. These
sportive creatures, as they gather strength, are turned
out upon the open mountains, and with their slender
limbs, their snow-white colour, and their wild and light
motions, beautifully accord or contrast with the rocks
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 315
and lawns, upon which they must now begin to seek
their food. And last, but not least, at this time the
traveller will be sure of room and comfortable accom-
modation, even in the smaller inns. I am aware that
few of tliose, who may be inclined to profit by this re-
commendation will be able to do so, as the time and
manner of an excursion of this kind is mostly regulated
by circumstances which prevent an entire freedom of
choice. It will therefore be more pleasant to me to
observe, that, though the months of July and August are
liable to many objections, yet it not unfrequently happens
that the weather, at this time, is not more wet and
stormy than they, who are really capable of enjoying the
sublime forms of Nature in their utmost sublimity,
would desire. For no Traveller, provided he be in good
health and with any command of time, would have a
just privilege to visit such scenes, if he could grudge the
price of a little confinement among them or interruption
in his journey for the sight or sound of a storm coming-
on or clearing-away. Insensible must he be who would
not congratulate himself upon the bold bursts of sunshine,
316 DESCRIPTION OF THE
the descending vapours, wandering lights and shadows,
and the invigorated torrents and water-falls, with which
broken weather, in a mountainous region, is accompanied.
At such a time there is no cause to complain, either of
the monotony of midsummer colouring or the glaring
atmosphere of long, cloudless, and hot days.
Thus far respecting the most eligible season for visit-
ing this country. As to the order in which objects are
best seen -— a Lake being composed of water flowing
from higher grounds, and expanding itself till its re-
ceptacle is filled to the brim, — it follows from the nature
of things, that it will appear to most advantage when
approached from its outlet, especially if the Lake be in
a mountainous country ; for, by this way of approach,
the traveller faces the grander features of the scene, and
is gradually conducted into its most sublime recesses.
Now, every one knows, that from amenity and beauty
the transition to sublimity is easy and favourable ; but
the reverse is not so ; for, after the faculties have been
raised by communion with the sublime, they are indis-
posed to humbler excitement. ,
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 317
It is not likely that a mountain will be ascended with-
out disappointment if a wide range of prospect be the
object, unless either the summit be reached before sun-rise,
or the visitant remains there until the time of sun-set, and
afterwards. The precipitous sides of the mountain, and
the neighbouring summits, may be seen with effect under
any atmosphere which allows them to be seen at all ; but
he is the most fortunate adventurer who chances to be
involved in vapours which open and let in an extent
of country partially, or, dispersing suddenly, reveal the
whole region from centre to circumference.
After all, it is upon the mind which a Traveller
brings along with him that his acquisitions, whether of
pleasure or profit, must principally depend. — May I be
allowed a concluding word upon this subject ?
Nothing is more injurious to genuine feeling than the
practice of hastily and ungraciously depreciating the
face of one country by comparing it with that of another.
True it is. Qui bene distinguit bene docet ; yet fasti-
diousness is a wretched travelling companion ; and the
best guide to which in matters of taste we can entrust
318 DESCRIPTION OF THE
ourselves, is a disposition to be pleased. For example,
if a Traveller be among the Alps, let him surrender up
his mind to the fury of the gigantic torrents, and take
delight in the contemplation of their almost irresistible
violence, without complaining of the monotony of their
foaming course, or being disgusted with the muddiness
of the water — apparent wherever it is unagitated. In
Cumberland and Westmorland let not the comparative
w^eakness of the streams prevent him from sympathising
with such impetuosity as they possess ; and, making the
most of present objects, let him, as he justly may do,
observe with admiration the unrivalled brilliancy of the
water, and that variety of motion, mood, and character,
that arises out of the want of those resources by which
the power of the streams in the Alps is supported. —
Again, with respect to the mountains ; though these are
comparatively of diminutive size, though there is little
of perpetual snow, and no voice of summer-avalanches
is heard among them; and though traces left by the
ravage of the elements are here comparatively rare and
unimpressive, yet out of this very deficiency proceeds a
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 319
sense of stability and permanence that is, to many minds,
more grateful —
" While the coarse rushes to tlie sweeping breeze
Sigh forth their ancient melodies."
See the Ode, Pass cf Kirkstone,
Among the Alps are few places that do not preclude
this feeling of tranquil sublimity. Havoc, and ruin,
and desolation, and encroachment, are every where more
or less obtruded ; and it is difficult, notwithstanding the
naked loftiness of the Pikes^ and the snow-capped sum-
mits of the Mounts, to escape from the depressing sens-
ation that the whole are in a rapid process of disso-
lution, and, were it not that the destructive agency must
abate as the heights diminish, would, in time to come, be
levelled with the plains. Nevertheless I would relish to
the utmost the demonstrations of every species of power
at work to effect such chancres.
- From these general views let us descend a moment to
detail. A stranger to mountain-scenery naturally on
his first arrival looks out for sublimity in every object
320 DESCRIPTION OF THE
that admits of it; and is almost always disappointed. For
this disappointment there exists, I believe, no general
preventive ; nor is it desirable that there should. But,
with regard to one class of objects, there is a point in
which injurious expectations may be easily corrected. It
is generally supposed that waterfalls are scarcely worth
being looked at except after much rain, and that,
the more swoln the stream, the more fortunate the
< spectator ; but this is true only of large cataracts with
sublime accompaniments ; and not even of these without
some drawbacks. The principal charm of the smaller
waterfalls or cascades, consists in certain proportions of
form and affinities of colour, among the component
parts of the scene, and in the contrast maintained be-
tween the falling water and that which is apparently at
rest ; or rather settling gradually into quiet, in the pool
below. Peculiarly, also, is the beauty of such a scene,
where there is naturally so niuch agitation, heightened,
here by the glimmering, knd, towards the verge of the
pool, by the steady, reflection of the surrounding images.
Now, all those delicate distinctions are destroyed by
COUNTRY OF THE LAKES. 321
heavy floods, and the whole stream rushes along in
foam and tumultuous confusion. I will conclude with
observing, that a happy proportion of component parts
is generally noticeable among the landscapes of the
North of England ; and, in this characteristic essential to
a perfect picture, they surpass the scenes of Scotland,
and, in a still greater degree, those of Switzerland.
In Advertisement to the River Duddon, line 1. for Tell read Fell
1 7th Sonnet, dele the title
Page 61. line 3. from bott. dele and
62. line 3. from bott. for Birkett's read BurUtt^s
79. line 15. dele comma after again
111. line 3. from bott. for regions read region
127. line 1. dele comma suiter gain
158. line 6. after crags^ substitute a comma for the semicolon
179. end of first stanza, for the song I learn, read song do I le ar
184. second stanza, read the first two lines thus :
This Abbot, for he was a holy man,
As all monks are, or surely ought to be,
200. line 4. after light, substitute a comma for the semicolon
208. line 2, for and read with
Printed by A. and R. Spottiswoode,